by Joe Alain

Coming Home Again: A Thanksgiving to Remember
Joe Alain
Luke 15:11–24

The crumpled flyer hastily taped to the convenience store window said it all. A picture of Regina Cox, a young, pretty, and innocent looking girl was missing. Underneath her picture were the desperate words of so many seeking parents: "Please call Home." I could only imagine the heartbreak and the emptiness that this family must have been enduring – "Gina," daddy’s little girl was gone. How many sleepless nights did her mother and father spend waiting for the phone to ring, but it never did? How many times had they heard the faint sounds of a car and raced to the window; maybe today she would come home, but she didn’t? How many times had they thought they spotted her in a crowd of teenagers at the mall? And how many nights did they pray themselves to sleep fearing the officers knock in the middle of the night? I don’t know if Regina Cox ever found her way back home or even called home, but if she didn’t there’s still a mother and a father somewhere waiting; there’s still an empty chair at the dinner table; there’s still a freshly kept room waiting to hear laughter again; there’s still a father looking and longing for his little girl to come home.

The longing of a loving father for a lost child is the theme of the parable of the prodigal son (Lk. 15:11–24). The story might be more appropriately called the parable of the loving father. Here is a poignant story of tragedy and triumph, of guilt and God’s wonderful grace, of heartbreak and homecoming, and of brokenness and thankfulness. In the story we are told of a man who had two sons (Lk. 15:11). The youngest hit his dad up for the future college savings fund. It wasn’t long before the money was burning a hole in his pocket and he moved off to the big city (Lk. 15:12).
It was in the far country that the son wasted his inheritance with "prodigal (wasteful) living."
His basic sin was restlessness. He was young and impatient. He had to ...

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