I looked up the definition of prodigal. The definition read, “wastefully or recklessly extravagant.” Then I looked up “extravagant.” The definition read, “spending much more than is necessary or wise; wasteful. I bet you know where this reflection is headed. Recently, as I meditated on the parable of the prodigal son recorded in the gospel of Luke chapter fifteen, I made a discovery. The discovery was right there in plain sight. I asked myself, “why haven’t you seen this before?” Then I remembered most of the discoveries I have made were truths that were staring me in the face as if they were waiting for me to become aware of them.
I have heard many a sermon on the prodigal son. My reflection for this entry however is not about the sermons I’ve heard. What I hold up for consideration pertains to what draws us. If you are not familiar with this story, I invite you to find where it is recorded in scripture and become familiar with the journey of this young man after he leaves home to venture into a foreign land. Let’s say you were the parent of two sons, and your youngest son asked you to give him the portion of the family inheritance that would eventually come to him. What would you do?
So this young inexperienced son takes his newly acquired inheritance, packs his belongings and heads to a place he has never been before. As long as his inheritance remains intact he is able to enjoy living life while experiencing things totally foreign to him. Soon his inheritance is gone and the rich lifestyle he had been experiencing has disappeared. The scripture indicates this young son wasted his inheritance on riotous living. And if matters couldn’t get worse, a famine strikes the land and this young son becomes overwhelmingly in need of the very basics of life like food and shelter.
I recall hearing an interpretation of this parable. The interpreter indicated that the young son was Jesus and the earth was the foreign land and somehow Jesus’ resurrection was how the parable ended as Jesus goes back to his father. I don’t agree. What I hold up for us to consider is that we, you and I, are the young prodigal son in this story. As I consider the mistakes I have made and how much I have stumbled throughout my life, it is not difficult to identify with this young son who was bent on having his own way. My extravagance, not just in physical ways but in selfish egocentric ways, has forced me to be taught by my misfortunes.
What occurred within the mind of this wayward son will eventually occur to each of us. It is a coming to one’s senses and changing one’s mind that becomes necessary to awaken us to who we really are. This wayward son, while seated in a pig-pen, is so hungry he is tempted to eat the slop meant for the pigs. His mind recalls his father’s house and the fact that even his father’s servants have enough to eat. So he devises a plan to go back to his father’s house but not as a son but rather as a servant. It dawned on me that this wayward son has lost sight of who he really is. He now compromises his identity based on his riotous living in that foreign land.
So he gets up and begins to make his way back to his father’s house. What he does not take into account however is his father’s love for him. It is very easy to allow our bad choices to distract us from the truth of who we really are. You see, the fact that he was headed to his father’s house reveals that he was returning to where he began. This is a journey we all will make. Once we make that transition through death of the body we begin to be drawn toward our Father’s house. We may even have some idea that perhaps due to the egocentric choices we have made in this life, that we would settle for being a servant. What we may not have considered is the Love our Father has for us. Can you imagine thinking that you are no longer a son or daughter of the most high God based upon your earthly behavioral choices. As we seek to compromise our identity to be less than who we really are, we are greeted and welcomed into the very presence of God where the celebration of our return is well under way. Please understand that in order to “re-turn” we must first turn away from the lies we believed about ourself.
We are children of the most high God. Our behaviors here cannot change our genesis nor our Father’s Love for us. When we awaken to our sonship or daughtership in Christ Jesus, and realize that ALL has been forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ, then “the return” to our Father’s House becomes the journey to celebration!