I wonder what the lost son was thinking as he made that long journey home from the far country. Will father reject me or accept me? Will he be angry with me? Such uncertainties would trouble his mind as he travelled home.
Many years ago, the evangelist D. L. Moody told a story about a returning prodigal. Like the son in the parable of Jesus, this boy had left home and lived a wild and rebellious life and, like the lost son in the Bible, he longed to return to the comfort and joy of his childhood home. He too did not know how his father would react to his coming home, and so wrote his father a letter in advance of his return. The train that he would travel on would pass by the end of the garden of the family home and in the garden was a large tree. The son asked his father to put a white handkerchief on the tree as a sign that he was forgiven, and would be welcomed home.
As the train neared the garden, the son could not bear to look, and asked a fellow passenger to tell him if he could see a white handkerchief on the tree.
The passenger excitedly told the lost son to look, and there on the tree was not just a white handkerchief, but instead hundreds of white handkerchiefs. That’s how much our heavenly Father is eager to forgive us!
When Jesus died on the cross He carried all our sins, and as we see our sins laid upon Him, give them to Him and turn away from them, so we are fully forgiven. The basis of forgiveness is that Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross [1 Peter 2:24].
Forgiveness is an amazing part of the riches of God’s grace to us [Ephesians 1:7]. The devil will try to keep you in bondage by reminding you of your past and present sins, but our heavenly Father both forgives and forgets our sins and will never remind us of them again. If He forgives and forgets, then why should you remember them?
Corrie ten Boom loved Psalm 103. Her favourite word in verse one was the word “all”. He forgives all our sins! When she came to verse 12 she would get so excited and ask how far the east is from the west. She delighted to tell people that you can come to the end of travelling north or south because there are north and south poles, but you never can come to the end of east or west. Corrie also loved Micah 7:19, “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea,” and would say that God then puts up a notice, “No Fishing Here”.
What is it that causes people to continually look back at their sin and wrongdoings instead of leaving it at the cross and moving forward in the freedom and forgiveness that God has made available to us?
What is your response to the story of the hundreds of handkerchiefs?
What characteristics of God are found in Psalm 103? Why not write them down and then, together with the Psalmist begin to “Bless the Lord”?