When I imagine myself in the story of the prodigal son, I am the older brother - the brother who is glad when his good-for-nothing sibling leaves home because it makes him look so much better by comparison. He preoccupies himself more with how his brother’s absence benefits him than with compassion for his father’s broken heart. With the younger brother gone, it’s all about me.
God was offering me a glimpse of what he feels for us when we turn away from him in moments of fear, of shame, of self-loathing. The isolation of sin is self imposed. If only we would turn to God, we would see the face of love. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, he waits and watches for us to come to home. Our capacity to receive his mercy is contingent only on our own willingness to turn and embrace it.