There’s a classic parental comeback to say to a young child who is threatening to run away:

“I’ll help you pack!”

[I’m not endorsing it.]

Once, when my younger brothers were in elementary school, they told my mom they wanted to run away. Cartoons told them that if you want to run away, you need to tie your stuff to a stick with a bandana. So they asked mom for help. She was happy to comply with what she thought was a game and helped them pack their bandana sticks.

Then they left.

Fortunately, Dad found them on his way home from work–walking along the road, probably close to a mile away from the house.

Perhaps the most famous of Jesus’s stories is about a runaway. A son demands his inheritance from his dad and leaves home. His dad helps him pack. Then he watches the road hoping and praying for his son’s return. The son wastes the money; hits the bottom; and decides to return home hoping to work as a servant for his dad.

The welcome he receives is amazing. His dad runs to meet him. Gives him a robe and a ring, and instructs his servants to serve a banquet in his honor.

We’re all runaways. What needs to happen to return home? What kind of apologies? What sort of forgiveness? Perhaps a better question is how do we picture God?