When we were going through a particularly challenging time with our son, a friend pulled me aside after a church meeting. “I want you to know that I pray for you and your son every day,” he said. Then he added: “I feel so guilty.”

“Why?” I asked. “Because I’ve never had to deal with prodigal children,” he said. “My kids pretty much played by the rules. But it wasn’t because of anything I did or didn’t do. Kids,” he shrugged, “make their own choices.”

I wanted to hug him. His compassion was a reminder, a gift from God, communicating to me the Father’s understanding for my struggle with my son.

No one understands the struggle with prodigals better than our heavenly Father. The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is our story and God’s. Jesus told it on behalf of all sinners who so desperately need to come home to their Creator and discover the warmth of a loving relationship with Him.

Jesus is God in the flesh seeing us in the distance and looking on us with compassion. He is God running to us and throwing His arms around us. He is heaven’s kiss welcoming the repentant sinner home (v. 20).

God hasn’t just left the porch light on for us. He’s out on the front porch watching, waiting, calling us home.