When I was seven years old, I ran away from home.
I’d had enough of my father’s rules and decided I could make it on my own, thank you very much. With my clothes in a paper bag, I stormed out the back gate and marched down the alley.
Like the prodigal son, I decided I needed no father. Unlike the prodigal son, I didn’t go far. I got to the end of the alley and remembered I was hungry, so I went back home.
But though the rebellion was brief, it was rebellion nonetheless. And had you stopped me on that prodigal path between the fences and asked me who my father was, I just might have told you how I felt. I just might have said, “I don’t need a father. I’m too big for the rules of my family. It’s just me, myself and my paper bag.”
I don’t remember saying that to anyone, but I remember thinking it. And I also remember rather sheepishly stepping in the back door and taking my seat at the supper table across from the very father I had, only moments before, disowned.
Did he know of my insurrection? I suspect he did. Did he know of my denial? Dads usually do. Was I still his son? Apparently so. (No one else was sitting in my place.)
Had you gone to my father after you had spoken to me and asked, “Mr. Lucado, your son says he has no need of a father. Do you still consider him your son?” What would my dad have said?
I don’t have to guess at his answer. He called himself my father even when I didn’t call myself his son. His commitment to me was greater than my commitment to him.
I didn’t hear the rooster crow like Peter did. I didn’t feel the fish belch like Jonah did. I didn’t get a robe and a ring and sandals like the prodigal did. But I learned from my father on earth what those three learned from their Father in heaven.
Our God is no fair-weather Father. He’s not into this love-’em-and-leave-’em-stuff. I can count on him to be in my corner no matter how I perform. You can, too.