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‘When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion.’ Luke 15:20

Good parents try to love all their children equally. But it’s the child who needs us most, that becomes the special object of our love.

Author and humorist Erma Bombeck once wrote: ‘Every mother has a favourite child.

She cannot help it. She is only human. I have mine—the child for whom I feel a special closeness, with whom I share a love that no one else could possibly understand.

My favourite child was the one who was too sick to eat ice cream at his birthday party, who had measles at Christmas, who wore leg braces to bed because he toed in, who had a fever in the middle of the night, the asthma attack, the child in my arms at the emergency ward.

My favourite child is the one who messed up the piano recital, misspelled committee in a spelling bee, ran the wrong way with the football, and had his bike stolen because he was careless.

My favourite child was selfish, immature, bad-tempered and self-centred. He was vulnerable, lonely, unsure of what he was doing in this world—and quite wonderful.

All others have their favourite child. It is always the same one: the one who needs you at the moment. Who needs you for whatever reason—to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter… to unload on—but mostly just to be there.’

Or as Jesus said about the Prodigal Son: ‘When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion.’

SoulFood: 1 Sam 24–26, Luke 24:36–44, Ps 51, Pr 22:12–16.

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