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The author and pastor Chap Clark tells this story
There was once a dad who had a three-year-old son named Brandon.
One day, Brandon sees his dad eating chocolate chip cookies in the living room and says to himself, Daddy loves chocolate chip cookies with milk. So I’m going to give Daddy a glass of milk. With that thought Brandon goes into the dining room and drags a chair from the dining room into the kitchen, leaving a trail of scratch marks on the floor.
Brandon climbs up on the chair and hitches himself onto the counter to pull at the cabinet door. Wham! It smashes against the adjacent cabinet door, leaving a gash where the handle hit it. Brandon reaches for a glass, accidentally knocking two others off the shelf. Crash! Tinkle, tinkle! But Brandon doesn’t care. He’s thinking, I’m going to get Daddy some milk!
Meanwhile, Brandon’s dad is watching all this, wondering if he should step in and save the rest of his kitchen. He decides, for the moment, to watch a little more as Brandon scrambles off the chair, dodging the pieces of broken glass, and heads for the refrigerator.
Pulling violently on the refrigerator door, Brandon flings it wide open—and it stays open, of course. Brandon puts the glass on the floor—out of harm’s way, supposedly—and grabs, not the little half-gallon of milk, but the big gallon container that is full of milk. He rips open the top, pours it in the vicinity of the glass, and even manages to get some milk in the glass. The rest goes all over the floor.
Finally done, Brandon puts the milk carton on the floor and picks up the glass yelling, “Daddy, I got something for you!”
He runs into the living room, trips, and spills milk all over the place—the floor, the sofa, his dad.
Brandon stands up and looks around. He sees broken glass, milk everywhere, cabinets open, his dad with milk from his eyebrows to his toes, and starts to cry. Through his tears, he looks up at his dad with that pained expression that says, “What are you going to do to me?”
His dad only smiles. He doesn’t see a kid that just destroyed his house. Instead he sees a beautiful little boy whom he loves very much. It doesn’t matter what he’s done. Brandon’s dad stretches his arms out to hold his little boy tight and says, “This is my son!”
Jesus told a similar story about another son who messed up. We call the story “The Prodigal Son.” It also could be called “The Parable of the Loving Father” because, just like Brandon’s dad, the father in the story threw his arms around his son and said, “This is my son!” (See Luke 15:11-32.)
When we talk about God as our Father, the kind of father we’re talking about is Brandon’s father. God is a father who loves us unconditionally, even though we make a real mess of things.