"And he 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. [21] And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.[23] And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. [24] For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate." Luke 15:20-24

I've been thinking a lot lately about people who are runners. Not the track and field kind-but those who are on the run from God.

You know who you are. You might sit in church on Sunday, but in your heart you're making distance away from God.

I don't know what has prompted you to take off. There are plenty of rationalized reasons why. Maybe you've done something that you think is beyond God's mercy to forgive. Maybe someone has really hurt you and you don't understand why God let it happen. Maybe you'd just rather live by your own rules and cling to some silly, sordid something than turn around.

I may not know why you're running, but I know this: you're tired. You've grown so used to this flight pattern that you can't imagine life any differently.

Can I ask you to rest for a minute and listen to something that will determine the course for the rest of your life? I'm not exaggerating.

Jesus told a story about a runner. He pictured him as a son taking off from his dad's house. You probably know the parable of the prodigal son. After all the details of this runner's rise and fall, Luke 15:17 tells us that he woke up one day in a pig sty and said to himself, "Whoa-how did I get here? I need to go back."

His first thought was "what will Dad do? What will he say?" Have you ever thought that? OK-if I come back to God, how will He receive me?

Some people think God wouldn't care one way or the other. He would barely look up from what He was doing and say, "Oh, you're back. Fine. Throw your things over there. We'll catch up some time." But that's not how Jesus described His Father. He said, "Listen, listen! Hear that? Hear those feet pounding the pavement? There's getting closer! That's God running toward you! He's been searching the horizon, waiting for just a glimpse of you and now that He sees you He's in a full run toward you." Luke 15:20 says "when the father got to his son, he threw his arms around him and kissed him." Can't you just picture the tears running down his face? My son! He's home!

God put that in His Word so that every runner would know what to expect when they reversed course and ran back to God.

So here it is: the choice that could change your life forever. In what direction will you run? I've never been more sure of this one thing: God loves you and is running toward you. Will you turn around and fall into His arms? —James MacDonald

Lord, I confess to you that I have been on the run from You a long time. In secret, private ways I have refused Your Word. But now I'm turning around and running back to You. Thank You for the confidence that You will receive me.