“[The son] arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

Unconditional love doesn’t exist… At least, this was the lie I came to believe growing up.

My biological father, who was my best friend, abandoned us when he died of a drug overdose when I was 9. In the aftermath, my family fragmented and I grew lonely. I came to believe if my own father would abandon me, so would everyone else. All they needed was a reason.

So for fear of being abandoned again, I got good. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get “good” in the true sense of the word. I got good at appearing good and hiding the rest. To use a metaphor synergistic with this parable, I left “home” and slapped lipstick all over this pig.

But the more I hid, the darker, lonelier, and more empty my hiding place became. All the while, I heard the voice of the Father saying, “Come home, son.”

I came to the place where, like the son in this story, I couldn’t hide anymore. My soul was in bondage and God showed me the only way to freedom was through the truth… to “return home.”

So, one night I called my adopted dad (I know, we’re skipping ahead, but that’s for another time) and, for the first time in my life, I laid everything out in the open. With similar words, I was saying, “I have sinned against heaven, against my family, and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

And at that moment when he had every right to judge me, reject me, and disown me, he showed me compassion and simply said, “I’m so sorry for you, Nate. I love you… God loves you.”

This is the love of the Father… unconditional in the truest sense, one that knows all that you are and doesn’t leave, but instead runs to you with compassion. It’s this love, the same love demonstrated through Jesus, that can change the world… I know it changed mine.

Nate Keating
Modern Worship Director

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