When we have it good, we think we can have it better, don’t we? We see the grass so lush and green on the other side. We think we know better and our choices can put us in a place where the way back is only through tremendous humility. We’re prodigals…
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
There is a point in which each of us has to make a choice of whether it’s time to leave home. Typically this occurs after high school or university these days, yet there are exceptions. I have a friend who left home at fifteen because his father was abusive. I have another friend who had to pay his own way from that same age. And I know people who lived at home well into their twenties while becoming career students. When did you leave home? Was it under pleasant circumstances?
Today we read of the lost son, also known as the prodigal son. He decided to leave home and basically cash in his inheritance. He had his eyes set on wild living and took his share to go squander everything in a foreign land. I am surprised he even received a ‘share.’ He was the younger of the two brothers, and typically inheritance would go to the eldest. Even in his leaving, for perhaps the wrong reasons, his father was gracious toward him, letting him make his own decisions.
Sometimes when we have it good, we think we can have it better, don’t we? We see the grass so lush and green on the other side of the fence and we strain to get there. I think it’s often an issue of wanting to call our own shots and make our own decisions. Being under the authority of another is very difficult for us. How many of us walk away from God because of this? We think we know better and even if we don’t, we desire to live in freedom. In fact, we desire to live in sin, don’t we?
Not willing to admit that?
Just like the son, we know that if we can just get away from the father, we can have things our own way and the father won’t know or see. The parents are away for the weekend. The boys’ trip to Vegas. The lost years of college. What happens there stays there, right? Wherever it is, we think no one will know and God won’t see. Some of us don’t even care. We will flaunt our sin in the face of our parents or God or whomever…
The son pursued wild living. He even had encounters with prostitutes. He squandered everything. And then he had to figure out what to do next. After working in the most demeaning of jobs he could ever imagine, he realized that he had an option to go home. He didn’t think he had any rights before his father. He didn’t go back expecting anything, but rather was returning to his father in humility, willing to confess his sin and become a hired man in his own father’s farm.
There are a couple of realities in the son’s move. First, we need to realize that when we get to that place in our lives, at the end of ourselves, that returning to God our Father is an option. In fact, it’s THE option. We don’t have to sleep in the bed we have made for ourselves for the rest of our lives. We can, just like the son, come to our senses and go to Father God to confess what we have done. Would you consider that in your situation? Yes, we have to get over the embarrassment of what we have done and not wanting to be found out… Still, our Father is there.
The other reality is that the son is so humble that he is willing to become a hired hand. He is willing to become a servant. That’s also difficult for us. We don’t easily get to the place where we are willing to submit and surrender to humble situations. Sometimes, though, we can only find our way back if we are willing to humble ourselves further than we were when we started.
Tomorrow we will find out what happens when the son humbles himself and returns. The Father is waiting and we will find he is way more gracious than we deserve. Would you consider whether you have walked away from the Father and how far you have gone? Maybe it’s time to return. Even today…