June 29, 2017
Volume 21, Number 22
Frank Kerrigan had two phone calls in May that he’ll never forget. The first was with the Orange County (CA) Coroner’s Department. In that call he learned that a man’s body had been found behind a store in Fountain Valley. The body, he was told, was that of his son, who had been living on the streets due to his mental illness.
No parent should ever receive such news, but Frank did the best he could. He offered to come identify the body. That wouldn’t be necessary, he was told; they had identified his son using fingerprint analysis.
The second call came eleven days later. Frank’s sister had gone to lay flowers at the site of the body’s discovery, in memory of her nephew. To her shock she found her nephew alive! She immediately called her brother, and announced the happy news. The $20,000 funeral held days before for the son was all for naught.
Authorities are not sure how the mistake was made. They are certain, though, that a lawsuit is in the works. Regardless, the son Frank Kerrigan thought was dead is alive.
Another father, long ago, considered his son to be dead. It had been quite awhile since the son left with his inheritance money and all of his belongings. The father knew that where the son was headed was a dark and dangerous place. Who would look after the young man? Would anyone help him if he got into a bad spot?
The father’s fears were well-founded. The son “journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want” (Luke 15:13,14). When the son needed food, “no one gave him anything” (Luke 15:16).
In desperation the son decided he would go back home. He had no delusions that his father would welcome him back as a son; he had burned that bridge, he thought. But maybe he would give him a job as a servant.
The father’s response is legendary. He didn’t hesitate to receive his son back as a son. His heart is beautifully revealed in these words Jesus spoke: “For this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:24).
Why did Jesus tell this story? He spelled out the lesson clearly in the two parables that preceded the Parable of the Prodigal Son: “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).
You and I can never wander so far from God that He won’t be joyous to receive us back home! Why, then, do we hesitate to return?
Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.
Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).
“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.
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