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According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, prodigal means: one who spends or gives lavishly and foolishly; one who has returned after absence, etc.

The second definition applies most to this prophetic Word. In fact, I sense that the prodigals that we will experience making a return to God are those who were raised in the church or with some head knowledge of God but who have left the faith. You knew of Him, you did not KNOW Him, but all of that is about to change. His arms are wide open to you. Backstory... On December 21st, my cat Abie got out of our home. Nine years ago when I prayed for a cat he and his siblings and mom showed up. Abie ended up becoming the one that stayed with me because as food was presented, he showed no reservations about helping himself to whatever it was that I offered him. He still enjoys food. The night he got out seemed so world shattering. It was forecasted to be freezing and I wondered if wherever he was if he'd be warm. I've cried in secret and in public since then. My heart is still in a weird place. I slept on the couch since he's been gone until four days ago. I wanted to hear him as soon as he came calling at our door. This was my hope. On Monday January 2nd as I got to the end of a Tim Sheetz sermon, INSTANTLY, understanding came to me. Although his message was so very different from this one, he was speaking of things to happen in 2023 and I believe as unrelated as his message was to what I'm sharing, the time period is what's important here: 2023. I believe God is calling the prodigals, His beloved sons and daughters to come back home this year.

On Tuesday January 3rd, I spent the day wondering how to present this Word. I knew what God was communicating but, “how do I share that with Your people, Lord?” was my question.

On Wednesday January 4th, is when I realized the timing of God is indeed perfect. There was more to this message that had to play out in order for me to share His heart. Even as I type this post I am still uncertain whether or not there is more that I need to share. Nevertheless, I am sharing now.

On this day (1/4/23) as I was pulling into my driveway, I saw a deer and it began to run away. I looked at my front door area and saw my cat probably in a defensive position on the ground. I hopped from the vehicle trying to be calm yet excited at the same time to see him. As I began calling his name, I saw him run in the opposite direction. My heart sank. I spent time rallying my neighbors to offer any help they could. It turns out that Abie’s hiding place was under a neighbor’s shed. As I would call his name and try to close in, he would run away. This happened multiple times until it began to get dark. I got a can of wet food, I did the flashlight thing for a while, I even thought at one point he may have ran back into our house. My husband just happened to drive up at that time and I shared the news with him. When he asked a few questions, he arrived at the conclusion that maybe Abie did not want to return home. He then asked if it was an option for him to come and go as he pleased. I told him no. Abie is my baby. What else would my response have been? Of course I want him inside of our home and “safe.” What my husband said afterwards left me at a standstill: “you can’t force him to stay if he wants to go.” I believe these were his words. This wasn’t anything profound, but it never occurred to me to allow Abie to return when he chose to, and IF he ever chose to. To the Loved Ones Who are Waiting… As a parent who loves their child, I can assure you that the only desire of that parent's/those parents' heart/s is the safe return of their child/children. My husband and I do not yet have children of our own, but for now, Abie comes the closest to my child—our child. Abie was fed, safe, spoken to kindly, disciplined when need be, hugged, kissed until I am sure in his own way he may have said: "that's enough, mom." Although he's only lived with my husband for a year, he has met my husband at the door daily to say hello for months now to get his affection in, and goes right back to doing what he was before my husband came home. In my mind, he has two human parents who care deeply for him. In my distress, I had to remind myself that the safest place Abie could be is with God. I recalled the sparrows from Scripture and it brought my heart great comfort. Please see Matthew 10:29-31.

Parent/s there is nothing you could have done to make your child/children return home if they chose not to. There is nothing you could have done more of to make them stay in the first place. A choice was made. Yes, I know you hurt and probably still are hurting. Can you then imagine how God’s heart feels in regards to His wayward sons and daughters? I encourage you to use that pain to PRAY. The Parable of the Prodigal Son…

We are introduced to this parable in Luke 15:11-32. Please read it. All that father cared about was the return of his child as expressed by his actions when he saw his son on his way back. As I wait for Abie to return, and I am sure he will, I don't have to wonder what a parent feels like waiting for their child to return to the safety of home, I don't have to imagine how God feels deeply in His heart about His children who are out there in the world. I know this feeling with great intimacy as I'm currently going through this message to be able to release it to you all. What I didn't mention earlier is, I am seventy-five percent sure I heard Holy Spirit reassure my heart that my cat was going to be okay the night he left home. Even with this seventy-five percent certainty, I couldn't help the tears that fell from my eyes as a result of the pain in my heart, the desire to scream, yet hold onto faith at the same time. Brothers and sisters, God feels this way for us. He feels this way for you. It matters more to Him that you come back home than why you left. His arms of mercy and compassion, His grace is calling you home, back to the safety of His welcoming embrace. To the Prodigal…

I've been grabbing treats and new goodies for Abie so when he returns, he can enjoy them. I believe God not only wants to grant unto you what you left, but even more than you imagine. Recall what the father in this story did for the son who returned home. When you've strayed so far and think you can't ever return, and you do return and are met with such love and acceptance, a grand celebration, forgiveness…something changes on the inside of you (please also see Luke 7:43-47 MSG).

As the son in this parable was out in the world, he only wished to be back home:

14 “And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.” 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!” 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be your son.” 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and out it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found’ And they began to celebrate (Luke 15:14-24 ESV).

Look, it's possible only you and God know what you've done since you’ve left Him to go out into the world, but can I tell you He is ready to forgive all of your sins and for you to return? Recall that the son was “far off” when his father saw him coming back. God knows when your heart has decided to make strides back towards Him. He sees your every effort and won’t punish you because it would seem you have such a long road ahead of you to “get right” with Him again. He's ready to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) as you humble yourself before Him this very day. He’s ready to receive you the way the father in this story received his son. Can I also share that if you choose not to return, He still loves you? I must however, share this caution with you: life will certainly be different for you if you never accept Jesus, your home will not be with Him in heaven but in hell with the father you’ve chosen, satan, BUT, can I tell you that God honors your free will more than you know? Can I go even deeper and say: if God Almighty took away your right to choose he would be no different that satan who lies to you? We are reminded that: God honors His Word above His name (Psalm 138:2) meaning what He says, He does: always. We are also reminded that God isn’t a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). He hasn’t ever told a lie and He will not. I Leave you With This, Prodigal…

You are not hopeless, helpless, or too far gone. God is calling you back to His heart AT THIS TIME. Read Luke 7:36-50 the AMPC and MSG versions. Receive His love and forgiveness. Forgive yourself as well. See you in heaven one day. I love you. God loves you even MORE. As for me and my cat Abie, I will continue to seek God—only He has all of my answers.

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