The Living Room: When Your Heart Needs a Father
by Max Lucado
“Our Father who is in heaven …” With these words Jesus escorts us into the Great House of God. Shall we follow him? There is so much to see. Every room reveals his heart, every stop will soothe your soul. And no room is as essential as this one we enter first. Walk behind him as he leads us into God’s living room.
Sit in the chair that was made for you and warm your hands by the fire which never fades. Take time to look at the framed photos and find yours. Be sure to pick up the scrapbook and find the story of your life. But please, before any of that, stand at the mantle and study the painting which hangs above it.
Your Father treasures the portrait. He has hung it where all can see.
Stand before it a thousand times and each gaze is as fresh as the first. Let a million look at the canvas and each one will see himself. And each will be right.
Captured in the portrait is a tender scene of a father and a son. Behind them is a great house on a hill. Beneath their feet is a narrow path. Down from the house the father has run. Up the trail the son has trudged. The two have met, here, at the gate.
We can’t see the face of the son; it’s buried in the chest of his father. No, we can’t see his face, but we can see his tattered robe and stringy hair. We can see the mud on the back of his legs, the filth on his shoulders and the empty purse on the ground. At one time the purse was full of money. At one time the boy was full of pride. But that was a dozen taverns ago. Now both the purse and the pride are depleted. The prodigal offers no gift or explanation. All he offers is the smell of pigs and a rehearsed apology: “Father, I have sinned against God and done wrong to you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21).
He feels unworthy of his birthright. “Demote me. Punish me. Take my name off the mailbox and my initials off the family tree. I am willing to give up my place at your table.” The boy is content to be a hired hand. There is only one problem. Though the boy is willing to stop being a son, the father is not willing to stop being a father.
Though we can’t see the boy’s face in the painting, we can’t miss the father’s. Look at the tears glistening on the leathered cheeks, the smile shining through the silver beard. One arm holds the boy up so he won’t fall, the other holds the boy close so he won’t doubt.
“Hurry!” he shouts. “Bring the best clothes and put them on him. Also, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get our fat calf and kill it so we can have a feast and celebrate. My son was dead, but now he is alive again! He was lost but now he is found!” (Luke 15:22-24).
How these words must have stunned the young man, “My son was dead …” He thought he’d lost his place in the home. After all, didn’t he abandon his father? Didn’t he waste his inheritance? The boy assumed he had forfeited his privilege to sonship. The father, however, doesn’t give up that easily. In his mind, his son is still a son. The child may have been out of the house, but he was never out of his father’s heart. He may have left the table, but he never left the family. Don’t miss the message here. You may be willing to stop being God’s child. But God is not willing to stop being your Father.
From The Great House of God
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1997) Max Lucado