Lifelines January 09, 2022

It is an amazing picture that is painted of the misadventure of the prodigal son (Luke 15).  He was totally entangled in selfishness.  He wanted pop’s stuff right now.  He had things on his mind other than family loyalties, and he needed financing to indulge those fantasies.  So, he asked for it and surprisingly got it (We better be careful what we ask for!).  His vision never extended beyond himself or the moment.  He never anticipated where his journey would take him.

He apparently never met a party he didn’t like.  He experienced the “fun” he sought and blew all the loot.  He had lots of good-timing friends until then.  An old country song had the lyrics, “Heartaches are heroes when their pockets are full,” and he was the hero…for a while.  Pockets never stay full for long when expenditures outpace income, and his friends disappeared with his bankroll.  Welcome to the pigpen.  He never planned for that.

A careful look at his surroundings clarified his thinking.  An empty, growling stomach will do that.  Home wasn’t so bad after all, even if he had to return with his prodigal tail between his legs.  He rehearsed his speech in his mind and headed home.  The rehearsal was unnecessary.  This is where his tale takes an unexpected turn.

His father (Read: God) did not reject him (Read: every sinner ever!), did not scold him, didn’t even raise his voice.  He had been looking for him.  His wandering child had come home, and nothing else mattered.  He was so happy that he RAN to meet him.  It was party time.  The boy had been out in the world of the dead and had become one of them.  Now, he was alive again.  The lost was found, and his father was ecstatic.

Big brother was not.  The grace of his father was more than he could handle.  He did not share in the joy of repentance and resurrection of his brother.  He was consumed by his anger and frustration.  He had always been good and faithful.  The little brat had run through a pile of money and been welcomed back home with a party.  He would not join in.  Instead, he pouted.

Squandering all that our Father gives us is not unique to this parable.  It is our story.  We took all that He has to give and wasted it.  The far country of sin not only robs us of our blessings but also of our innocence.  Like Adam and Eve, we come to know not only good but evil.  Some never escape that pigpen.

It is an ugly place to live, but it has a benefit.  That is where we come to our senses and realize how much we need our Father.  Will He accept us back when we have strayed so far away?  Definitely!  Heaven rejoices, and He comes running when His prodigals come home.