The prodigal story has been told a million times. Even people who aren’t really familiar with Scripture are often familiar with at least the premise of the story.
The youngest son decides he wants everything that will one day be his. He leaves home, squanders it all, and when he finds himself almost ready to eat with the pigs he’s feeding, he has an epiphany.
He will go home! See, he remembers that even his father’s servants lived better than he was living. So he decided to go back and agree to work as a servant, knowing he had wasted his entire inheritance as a son.
Lessons Learned the Hard Way
These days, there’s actually quite a bit we can learn from the prodigal son. One of the biggest ones is that it is entirely possible to waste everything you have without even realizing it.
The Younger Son
In Luke Chapter 15, we find that young son finally headed home. He probably dawdled, unsure of what he would find when he got there. Why, it’s possible, after all that he had done, that the elders of the city might even have been justified in stoning him to death on site!
But you know, it’s hard to stone someone to death when they’re sheltered in the arms of someone that loves them desperately!
You see, his father saw him coming from a long way off. Can’t you imagine what he felt? He hadn’t heard from his youngest in such a long time. Was he ok? Was he hungry, or being mistreated? Had he fallen in with the wrong crowd? Or worse still, was he dead?
All these questions and more were probably churning through his mind as he ran and gathered him into an embrace and kissed him. Even as the young man was apologizing for his sin, His father was busy making plans.
“Quickly!” he said, “The best robe! Put it on him! And give him a ring, and shoes for his feet! Make a fine dinner so we can eat and visit and enjoy the fact that my son’s not dead!”
I imagine his voice probably broke, don’t you? It would if my youngest were the one coming home after a long absence! I imagine it was through tears that he said, “We thought he was dead, but here he is, alive! I thought I had lost him forever, but here he is, with us again!”
The Older Son
The story also tells of an older brother who was anything but enthused about his younger sibling coming home. In fact, he seemed disgusted that his father would make such a big deal, even throwing him a party and celebrating his return.
When the father found out he wouldn’t come inside and be a part of the celebration, he went out to fetch him himself. But that was when the elder son got real honest, real quick.
“How could you do all this for HIM?? How could you be so happy that he’s back?? He’s wasted everything you gave him! Everything YOU worked so hard for! I’ve been with you forever, and I’ve done everything right, but you’ve never thrown ME a dinner party! You’ve never celebrated or had dinner with me and my friends!”
But oh my heart… isn’t the father’s reaction priceless? He said…
“But son… YOU never left. Everything I have is already yours!”
I imagine he might have said it with a smile on his face, and maybe a touch of “Don’t you get it?” in his voice…
“Son, if you wanted a fatted calf, it was right here! You could have had it any time! All the amenities I’m showering on your little brother have been right here where you ARE, the whole time, ripe for the taking!
“But you see, we HAD to make a fuss. All this time we thought your brother was dead, and now here he is, alive, and HOME! He was lost, but now he’s FOUND!”
One and the Same?
The truth is, those two brothers were so very much alike. One took everything his father had divided to him, left home, and wasted it. The other stayed right where he was, and still managed to waste his too.
One was rebellious.
One was religious.
And they BOTH needed an attitude adjustment!
That story is still being played out today, just like it will continue to play out tomorrow, and for years along. It’s nothing new. It just goes to show the heart condition. But so much more than that.
You see, when we separate ourselves from God, there is nothing to do with our sustenance EXCEPT squander it. On the other hand, there are many who warm church pews all over the world, and still squander the rich inheritance the Father has already set apart for them.
Which one are you?
Have you been in the pit, ready to eat the hogs husks? Or are you angry because the one who has finally found their way back is enjoying the sustenance of their Father?
There’s Always Enough!
The great thing about God’s sustenance is that it never runs out! He is the One who created the heavens and the earth, and when He is ready to pour out a blessing, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.
If you’ve been gone from His presence, it doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gone. What matters is that you can make the decision to come back.
And even when He sees you far off, He will run to meet you. He’ll embrace you and love you, as He always has, and shower you with everything you have a right to as “son” or “daughter” who has been grafted in.
It doesn’t matter how far you’ve run. Just come home.