Come near to God and he will come near to you.
God Welcomes All Who Come to Him
Jesus once told a story about a young man who demanded his inheritance while his father was still alive. The young man then went to a distant land where he squandered all his money. Eventually, he had to take a job feeding pigs and was so hungry that he wished he could eat the food he was feeding to the pigs. Finally, the young man decided to go back home. He knew that he had deeply hurt his father. But he hoped that his father would receive him back, if not as a son, then as a servant.
When the young man came within sight of his hometown, his father, who had been waiting and watching for him, saw him. In his joy, the father ran to his son, embraced him, kissed him, and welcomed him home.
This story beautifully illustrates what the apostle James teaches us in today’s Bible passage. “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” All of us have been like the son in Jesus’ story. In our stubborn sinfulness, we have run away from God and done our own thing—all to our own detriment. Eventually, our rebellion against God landed us in a hole so deep that we could never get ourselves out of it. Then, God graciously led us to realize how foolish we were to run away from him. He worked in us sorrow over our sins and a desire to return to him. He drew us to himself and moved us to ask for his forgiveness.
Then just like the father in the story, before we could draw ourselves to God, God already was running to welcome us. Because of what Jesus did in sacrificing himself on the cross to pay for all our sins, God forgave us, embraced us, and received us as his dearly loved children, whom he never stopped looking out for. What a blessing to know we have a God who receives us and celebrates our return—almost as if we had never left.
Heavenly Father, when I stray from you, draw me back to you and hold me close, so that I never stray from you again. Amen.