For a long time I’ve read the Parable of the Lost Son and never fully grasped how deep it is. But until recently I’d never lost someone I loved so much, watched them go away, wrestled with fear of never seeing them again, and then had the chance to celebrate in joy when they came back. What amazing joy that father had at seeing his son come home! What amazing joy God has when his children come to him! What amazing joy for me and Crossing Cambodia when one of our beloved students came home to us!
This particular girl is one that we’ve known for quite a while. She was one of the first children we started with. We have had big dreams of seeing her graduate school one day, of seeing her grow up, and seeing her follow God. But recently she was taken away from us. Her father, who in spite of his own personal problems, continues to express his love for his children and desires them to be with him. He decided to take her and her brothers away to the countryside where he felt he could find work.
It’s something that perhaps you need to be a parent to understand, but even though he has all these struggles in his life and even though logically the best thing for the kids would be to give them up so they can be cared for, I could see in his eyes a desire to be with his children and to let them know how much he as a father loves them. And so he left, and we didn’t know if we’d ever see these kids again. I broke down, sat in my office and cried, knowing there was nothing I could do but trust God in all of this.
Weeks passed and we were beginning to resign ourselves to the fact that they really were gone. It could be months if not years before we saw them again. IF we ever saw them again. We even started talking about filling their missing spots in our program. We wanted to hold out hope, but how could we when we knew there are other children that need to be cared for? We were prepared to let them go as we knew they were with their father who at least had hope of caring for them.
Then suddenly one day Sokly walks up to my office, smiling from ear to ear. I couldn’t possibly have guessed what it was, but she said they were back. Without thinking I leapt from my chair and raced to the front ran past my shoes and embraced the little girl I’d been missing. I picked her up and hugged her, then I grabbed the younger brother and hugged him and swung him around, then hugged the oldest boy and started offering them food and ice cream and anything else I could think of because they were back!
I call all the kids in this program my little brothers and sisters. Oh what joy to know my sister and brothers were back with us! I actually had to go into my office and close my door as I broke down once again. This time in joy I sat on the floor, crying, thanking God for His grace and love and for bringing them home.
Oh how the father in that story must have felt. His joy must have been so much greater as his son had wished him dead and now could well have been dead himself, and then he came home, seeking the father that loved him so much. Not waiting for the son to come in the father raced out to meet him and embrace him. My joy at seeing these children come back could only ever be a fraction of what that father must have felt, and could only ever be a fraction of the joy the Lord must feel when one of His children turns back to Him.
I am reminded that no matter what sins we may commit or what ways we may offend our Heavenly Father, there is nothing we can do that will cause him to stop loving us and waiting for us and seeking us.
My lost students came home. The father has currently entrusted the children to us while he works in the countryside. We have agreed that he can come and visit them when able as we know he loves them. When he is ready and able he may choose to take them with him, but until then they are with us and we can rejoice in how much God loves them and us!
So we celebrated with ice cream and singing praises. What a great and loving God we have!