Arms Outstretched

I ran into a friend today, and I started to cry.

No, I didn’t actually run into her—just the figurative collision. But the crying was real.

Although I admit, I turned my face to the wall so she wouldn’t see.

I told her we missed her—a lot. Told her we loved her. Then we sat down in our respective chairs and set about our own respective work. And I hoped she wouldn’t look up to see the tears falling on my computer keys.

From her perspective, I think she thought I would judge her. That we were all judging her.

But in truth, my heart just hurt, desperately wanting to pull her back into the fold.

And I wondered.

Is that how God feels when we betray Him?

Some think of our relationship with Him as sinners in the hands of an angry God. Like He’s ready to swipe left and hit delete.

For others, He’s Santa Claus. Jolly and rosy. Threatening coal, but always fulfilling our wish list. Even if we ignore Him for the rest of the year.

Or a grandpa. Coddling. Pampering. Seeing no wrong.

But the truth?

I think our rejection makes Him sad. He knows how much we’ll suffer without Him. Like the prodigal son.

God may let us go our own way. Let us waste our gifts. Let us trample our own hearts until we come to the end of ourselves.

But He’s there, waiting, longing. Arms outstretched.

“I’m here. I love you. You don’t have to eat that slop. Just. Come. Home.”

He cries it for me. He cries it for my friend.

Like this painting by Liz Lemon Swindle. It’s called The Prodigal Son,

Liz Lemon Swindle's The Prodigal Son
Liz Lemon Swindle’s The Prodigal Son
(used by permission)

but where’s the emphasis?

Not on the sinful child.

Instead, we see the father…his weathered face, tears in his eyes, an embrace that envelopes his son—who once was lost, but now is found.

Which reminds me of Chris Rice’s song, the Untitled Hymn, otherwise known as “Come to Jesus.”

A beautiful painting, a beautiful song, and a story that reminds me what Christ was willing to give to have a relationship with me. Because I can’t turn to Him on my own merits. Only on His.

Friend, if you are out there, wandering on your own, hear these words from Luke 15.

“But when the son came to himself, …he arose and came to his father. Yet 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, ‘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 15:11-32, (ESV excerpts)

God is here. Longing to run to you. Arms outstretched.

So come to Jesus and live.

I’m so thankful that Liz Lemon Swindle allowed me to use her painting with this post. When I saw it, I knew it showed exactly what I was trying to say. Interested in seeing more of her work? Check out her website, and Facebook.

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4 thoughts on “Arms Outstretched”

  1. Such a powerful painting! It perfectly captures what you are saying — and you said it well–along with Chris Rice’s lyrics. When I saw the crying father, I felt the tears come, too! Thank you for the poignant reminder of the Father’s love for us.

  2. What a beautiful painting and it fits perfectly! Come to the table, come join the sinners that have been set free, I am singing away!. Thank you!

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