When We Stare Down An Empty Road

We all appreciate a happy ending.

Jesus taught difficult truths. His stories often reflected the nitty-gritty reality of a broken world that doesn’t guarantee happily-ever-after.

The Parable Of The Lost Son, however, provides the ultimate feel-good ending.

  1. Son rejects dad, squanders family fortune on years of unsavory activity.
  2. Son becomes homeless, destitute, and desperate.
  3. Son crawls home and begs forgiveness.
  4. Dad runs to meet son.
  5. Party!

I noticed a detail in verse 20: But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

His father saw the son “while he was still a long way off.” So he was looking. I imagine he’d been looking. Every day. For years. Looking down that road, wondering if today might be the day his beloved son would finally appear. Not knowing if it would ever happen, the father kept looking. Praying. Waiting.


He was a rich man with an estate and servants, but this situation was beyond his control. His son was gone and he could do nothing. Couldn’t rescue. Couldn’t help. All he could do was wait and look down that road.

We’ve been there, right? Stuck in circumstances we want desperately to fix, knowing we can only wait and look down the road. And knowing there’s not always a happy ending. No matter how hard we pray of how hard we look, how much we want to intervene, we may not get to kill the fattened calf and throw a party.

But still we hope, because the hope’s not in the happy ending.

The hope’s in knowing God keeps His promises. While the father stared down that road every day for years, lost in grief and fear, Jesus was always with the son. Through years of sin, tough times, and hopelessness, Jesus held the son securely in His hands.

The son didn’t come back in a week. Or a month. His father waited for years. We wait as well, looking down a road for the son that may never appear. We can, however, wait with hope. The situation we want so much to fix rests in Jesus’ hands.

It’s all I’ve got.

It’s enough.