Today: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Prodigal Son    (3/1/2009 1)

The return of the prodigal son I left home under a cloud long ago.

I guess if I am honest it was a cloud of my own making, but I couldn’t stand it any longer. The family was just so ‘nice’; I couldn’t bear it. The rules, the work, the constant happy chatter, there was just no space to find myself or be me, you know? That’s how it felt.

I just wanted to do my own thing, be ‘master of my own destiny’ for a bit. So I asked for money, nothing that wouldn’t be mine in the long run, mind you, it was my inheritance. And I left.

And here I am. I’ve had fun, sort of. But actually it is all empty. The girls aren’t here; the car’s gone, the money’s run out, and I hate the work I am forced to do to pay for food and a bed.

And I remember a story I heard long ago…

Over the next few weeks we are going to look at some stories Jesus told. Stories that were told for a reason. Stories we call parables. Stories about human things that teach us about God. Stories like this one.

The boy in our story had effectively told his dad, for he was lucky enough to have a dad who loved him, that he wished him dead so that he could have his inheritance. In an extraordinary act of grace, he got his inheritance and left, spending the money in what the Bible calls ‘wild living’.

When I was a boy I thought that sounded exciting, ‘wild’ living, but now I have a different perspective. I’ve lived and worked among prostitutes. I’ve befriended addicts and those who have been imprisoned for sexual proclivity beyond society’s boundaries. I am privileged to count millionaires and bankrupts as friends, to have enjoyed time with landed gentry and homeless gentleman and some of each have been wild, others wise. I have seen wild living in many of its extremes and it is exciting for a time but ultimately worse than futile, for it is not only empty but draining.

And so the boy comes to his senses. He realises that his father’s servants have a far better life that him, and he resolves to return and seek the goodwill of his father, hoping that he might be permitted to serve and thus survive in the house he once called home. So he sets out.

And here is the truth that shocks and amazes us even in the dull familiarity of an oft-retold story. The spurned and wounded father is watching and waiting. He is longing for the return of the son he loves, and when he sees him he rushes to meet him. He will not hear the grovelling, the begging for position. His son is home and the whole household will rejoice and reform around him (despite the objections of the elder brother who doesn’t like this at all).

Here is hope. Here is restoration and freedom beyond our wildest dreams. This is a story, yes, but it is precisely how God longs to treat any of us who will return to him. We don’t even deserve to be servants, but he longs to welcome us home as precious children, loved and wanted.

But what about me? It can’t be that good for me. Should I stay secure in my emptiness, or dare I take that risk?

Read the original story in Luke's gospel ('The Message' version)

Look at Rembrandt's famous painting of the return of the prodigal son.

Think about: If this story rings true for you, take some time to consider if you would like to come back to God who better then the best parent we could imagine.

  • Do you want to be home?
  • Are you willing to take the risk and look for this hope?
  • You can use this prayer below if you want to

Pray: I am sorry that I have turned my back on you and lived for myself. Please let me come back to you.

I dare to believe that you will welcome me, forgive me, and heal me, and so I come to you now in Jesus’ name.

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