Prodigal son teaching returns to me again. Our community group studied it for a while, then our pastor preached on it, my Monday night Bible study has a section on it right now, then at Faithwalk the first night had a devotional on it. Last night my husband and I were watching something about fame and the last bit of the program was about the prodigal child.
I was the prodigal child in my college years. I didn’t walk away from my faith; however, I did a selective belief system. If it didn’t change my language, ability to party, or what kind of relationship I had then I was all in. The only conversation I had with my Mother about sex was “I hope you wait for marriage.” No biblical teaching was offered. Not sure it would have made a difference. I later acquired the knowledge that the Bible said “No before marriage.” I walked away from God because of the shame I carried and the belief in the lies I heard. I believed God could not love me because of the choices I made or were made for me (rape).
I was the older brother who stayed in the family and wasn’t celebrated. I was the child who heard the arguments between my parents over my brother. My dad was the one who wanted to teach the money lesson. My mom was the one who snuck around to give him money. She found creative ways to do it, a big tip for him at the restaurant where he worked, gas money or a sack or two of groceries with some cash down in the bag. She once asked me to take money out of my savings account and wire it to him so he could buy Christmas presents for us. It wasn’t the gift I expected (cherished but), it was a used toy. It was easy for me to be the bitter child of story, my brother was my mother’s chosen child. She favored him. When the younger brother returns home, the older brother says something (your son, he disowned him).
The father’s role in The Prodigal Son is one of hope and wisdom. He gives the younger son his desire, the inheritance he desired. He knew what would ￼happen, but he gave anyway. Then he watched and prayed…my place as a parent says he prayed, the Bible didn’t. It says he saw his son on the road from far away. If he was not watching the road, would he have seen him? When he sees him and knows it is not his imagination, he picks up his robe and RUNS! He catches him in an embrace that would make his son hard to breathe. The joy that he feels would be hard to miss. The celebration is heartfelt. For his son —was gone from his family, rejected his upbringing, and followed a strange path—has returned!
Where are you in this parable? The younger son who chose his own way? The older son who stayed but didn’t grow in his faith because he never gave the Father any trouble? Or are you the father, hopeful that your child sees God’s love and grace, running to the lost embrace them and show them forgiveness?
“And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it (the one that lost) more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.” Matthew 18:13 ESV