But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. – Luke 15:20b
“But” is a disruptive word. It signals an event that will redirect, even reverse the trajectory of a story. Often, it introduces a surprise. “I didn’t see that coming!” we say. The first “but” of our story showed up in Luke 15:17a: “But when he came to himself…” The son was headed for destruction, “but” his change of heart marked the beginning of a dramatic reversal in his story. So it is for us when God moves our hearts to turn from sin to Him.
The second “but” signals the radical redemptive reversal which arises from the father’s heart. It introduces the shocking response of the father that dramatically alters the conclusion of the story for Little Brother. It is the “but” of scandalous grace.
The Bible is full of such “buts”:
- But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9).
- “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20a).
- If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared (Psalm 130:3-4).
- But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
- But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20).
How have you experienced the “but” of God’s surprising grace in your life?
Suggestions for prayer
Thank God for any redemptive reversals He has worked in your life. Pray that He will work a redemptive reversal in the life of someone you know.
Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.