The son left his Father's house and spent all that his Father had given to him for his own pleasure. Eventually, he squandered everything he had and was living in the most pitiful condition. The son was in dire straights, but waited until he was completely out of options before returning to his Father. I can only imagine his sense of shame. If I was in his shoes, I would have been dreading the (deserved) anger of the Father. In fact, I have been in his shoes and that's exactly how I felt.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that the son "came to his senses" (hurray for coming to our senses!!) and decided to return to his Father's house. Prior to returning, he carefully rehearses an apology. He heads for home and before he has a chance to apologize, his Father sees him coming and "filled with love and compassion, He ran to His son, embraced him, and kissed him." The Father didn't wait for for the son to crawl into His presence. The son didn't have to do penance or prove the sincerity of his repentance. He moved in the direction of the Father and the Father ran to meet him!
That's how your Papa feels about you. His longing for connection with you is so great that when you turn to Him, He runs to meet you. He's filled with love and compassion. He wants to embrace you.
It's really hard for us in our humanness to comprehend such a love. I've recently learned that this misconception starts early in our human experience. One of my children was telling me about something that happened to them. It was a really special thing and it was obvious to me right away that it was a gift from their heavenly Daddy. I told them that I thought God was telling them how much He loves them. The first response was awe and wonder, but almost immediately doubt popped in. I questioned this and the response was, "I don't think so." I was genuinely surprised and confused. I had to press a bit for an explanation and then came the whispered confession, "I don't think He'd tell me He loves me because I have a bad word stuck in my head." I wanted to weep.
I was also really mad. Stinkin' mad. It's so obvious that this lie of being unloved is just that--a stinkin', rotten lie. Our Father loves us. He loved us before we ever did one thing right. And there is nothing that can separate us from His love. Nothing. Does He desire repentance? Absolutely. Whenever we break His laws, we bring pain into our lives and, being a good Papa, He doesn't want to see us hurt. He wants us to surrender our lives to Him because it will bring us joy and peace.
We don't have to "journey to a far country" or "live wildly" as the prodigal son did to believe this lie. Little lies can creep in that we've disappointed our Father. It can be any number of things. After all, there is an enemy who is actively trying to steal our joy.
If you're not feeling the love, ask your Papa to show you the lie you've been believing. He will. In fact, He'll run to meet you!
"I will be your God throughout your lifetime--until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you."