A Letter from the Publisher
The month of June is one of excitement! For many of us, we welcome the coming summer months in anticipation of upcoming vacations, retreats, and some much-needed rest. I believe we are looking forward to summer even more so this year than in previous years after so many dark months. It is during the beginning of our R&R that we have the opportunity to celebrate those in our lives who have stepped up to the plate to fill the role of Father Figure. Whether they be a father by blood or a father by choice, they serve equal importance and give ample love and advice. For those who do not have an earthly father to celebrate this year, let us not forget that we all have a Heavenly Father who will never let us down, who will never leave us nor forsake us, who is always there for us, and who loves us more than any human father ever could.
Daniel Burkhart’s Hopes for His Readers
Daniel Burkhart illustrates our Heavenly Father’s love and forgiveness so vividly in his book, Prodigal. He tells the story of his own life and how he turned away from his Christian faith in order to pursue a lifestyle that he thought would be more fulfilling only to discover that without Christ in his life, it was empty.
I believe many of us can either relate to Daniel from our own experiences or from watching someone we love go through this. His story, found within the pages of Prodigal, serves not only as a message of caution, but also as a message of hope and forgiveness. Redemption is for all people. We can always find rest within the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father.
Daniel tells readers that the goal in writing this book…
“Is that the reader can see how easy bad decisions happen, how we justify them with our reasoning, and how even though people may look like they are having a great time, many people have an empty, hollow feeling living deep within them.
I also want readers to take away from this story the love and forgiveness we have in our Heavenly Father. No matter who you are or what your background is, God loves you and wants you to be part of His family. Once we are part of His family, we need to look at our relationship with Christ as a father-to-child relationship. This means we can serve the Lord out of love for Him, not out of a sense of obedience to your Master as a servant.
The change in this dynamic is key for all Christians. I serve my Father because of my love for Him; I serve my boss due to a sense of fear of losing my job. My Father forgives me no matter what I have done; my boss will fire me if I do not do what he says. My Father yearns for a stronger, richer relationship and wants me to be successful, to have peace, and to have joy. My boss desires only for me to serve his purpose, my success in life is not his main concern for me. Obedience is his main concern for me.
God has always and will always be the same, we just need to see Him more clearly. I hope [this book] inspires you to have a deeper relationship with the Lord. No matter what your past is, God can give you a bright future.”
The Prodigal Son
“The parable, or story, of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 is one most people hear as a child. The story begins with a rich man who had two sons: the oldest son was faithful to his father and would stay busy working in the fields tending to the crops, while his youngest son was curious of what the world would be like to explore and what adventures he had yet to experience. The father told his sons that when they were older, he would give them their inheritance. His younger son, wanting to experience more of the world, came to his father and asked for his portion immediately instead of waiting. The father loved both of his sons very much and wanted them to be happy, so he gave the younger son his portion as the son had wished.
The younger son began his journey into life recklessly squandering his money on the new friends he had made and the sinful lifestyle he had acquired. He quickly lost all his riches and money and soon he was left with only the clothes he was wearing. All his friends disappeared once his money was gone. In order to live, he began to work for a farmer and took care of the swine. He was famished from hunger, even eating the slop for the pigs. He sat in the mud, miserable form the lifestyle and choices he had made. He thought that it would be better to be a servant in his father’s house than to eat the slop with these beasts. He thought that if he went back to his father and begged for forgiveness, his father would grant him this wish.
The younger son embarked on the long journey back to his family. He smelled of pigs and his clothes were dirty and tattered. The rich man looked out from his fields and saw someone coming toward his house. When the father realized it was his prodigal son, he ran to meet him. The younger son begged his father for forgiveness and asked him if he could be a servant for his father. The son was willing to live in the servants’ quarters and not be considered part of his family anymore. The father, hearing this, replied, “My son who was once lost is now found. He was once dead but is now alive.”
The father had his servants take the younger son and bathe him. They clothed him in the finest apparel and prepared a feast to celebrate the return of the prodigal son.”
Forgiveness for the Sons: The Tender Embrace of the Father
Through Daniel’s own journey of rebellion (much like the prodigal son in the Bible), God, his Heavenly Father, showed him what true life, love, and forgiveness really are. In his own words he says…
“In the story of the prodigal son, the most disappointing character in the story was not the prodigal son, but the older brother. The older brother was faithful to his father and worked in the fields. When he saw that his father gave the fatted calf to his younger brother upon arrival after years of rebellion, he was upset and frustrated instead of overwhelmed with joy. The older son did not know how to receive grace freely and became upset when his brother received it so easily. The older son failed to realize that the only qualification for him to receive his inheritance was to simply be a child of the rich man.
I had felt the pain of both sons. I had walked away from the comfort and security of my Father, and when I returned to the Lord, I did not feel worthy of receiving my inheritance which was rightfully mine – His peace. Once I remembered that I was a child of God and part of God’s family, I saw myself differently.
I lost my desire to live in this world without living fully in the will of my Father. I now had freedom to live in peace through Christ. This prodigal son shared the same struggles as both of the brothers in the parable and came back to the tender embrace of his Father. I truly felt that it was well with my soul.”
Extending and Accepting Forgiveness: The Father’s Love
It is easy to be swept up in the cares and sinful desires of this world. It is easy to hold onto grudges and never forgive. But this is like us drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The only person that it hurts is us. If we are to live like Christ, then we have to forgive and love in the same way He has forgiven and loved us.
However, before we can ever extend this forgiveness, we have to accept it, just like Daniel did in his own life. We have to accept that we are children of God. Our Heavenly Father will always be waiting to receive us with outstretched arms and no condemnation.
So, on this Father’s Day, whether we have an earthly father or only our Heavenly Father, let us be thankful for them and make sure they know how much we appreciate them in our daily lives. And to every father out there, Happy Father’s Day.
“Whoever hears my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. For I give you sound teaching; do not abandon my directive.”
To read the previous letter from our publisher, click here!