Every Wednesday Lisa and I pick up our grandchildren, Annalee and Ryder from school. We have our AWANA children’s program at church that night so we bring them home, help them with their homework, teach them their AWANA Bible verses, play a game and eat dinner. When we go to pick them up from school Ryder and the other kindergarteners are waiting in the foyer. When he sees me coming he bursts through the door like a horse leaving the gate in the Kentucky Derby. He yells, “Grandpa”, at the top of his lungs as he runs toward me with arms wide open and a backpack bouncing behind. It kind of reminds me of one of those movies where they show two people running toward each other on the beach, in slow motion, with arms wide open; except Ryder is a quick little guy.
It also reminds me of a story Jesus told about the “Prodigal Son”. In this story a man had two sons and the younger of the two asked for his inheritance early. Upon receiving it he left home and spent all his money in reckless living. Out of money, out of friends, and away from home he finds himself envious of the pigs he was hired to feed. He finally comes to his senses and decides to return home, apologize, and ask to be a servant. “ But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:20-24).
I love the arms wide-open receptions I get from my Grandson partly because he is so darn cute, partly because I love him and I know he loves his Grandpa, and partly because it reminds me of the reception I got from God on a June day back in 1984 when this prodigal son came home.