the prodigal son is a story that i’ve visited time and time again. the story, found in Luke 15 has many layers. (not like an onion, more like parfait. after all, everyone likes parfait.)
i’ve been thinking a lot about the story lately. in the past, i’ve seen myself as the younger son who asks his father for his inheritance, goes out and squanders everything and then returns home.
i’ve been that son who has wondered away, squandered the things God has so richly given me, only to realize that i’m left with nothing of significance.
i have done things that i’ve known were wrong. i’ve squandered things God has given me, and taken them for granted. and when i’ve come back to my senses, when i’ve returned to what i knew was true and let the deception fall away, i return to my Father’s house not expecting to be a son, but a servant in His home.
i also have seen myself in the older brother, the one who stayed behind. the one who wondered why his Father so richly welcomed his younger brother back, and gave him a party. after all, he didn’t leave. he stayed. where was his recognition?
i’ve looked around at people who have wandered away from faith, only to come back with a hero’s welcome. i’ve seen people blessed in many ways that i longed to have as well.
but lately, i’ve realized that i’m both brothers.
you see, when the younger brother decided to return home, he did so because he realized that even the servants in his father’s home were better off than he was. so, he decided to return home not to reclaim his place in the family, but to become a servant in his father’s house. he didn’t think he was worthy to be a son anymore. and i’ve wrestled with that. i’ve felt that i’m not worthy to be called a son anymore. nor do i want to presume that i can just walk away and then come back to take my place in the Father’s house.
and then i’ve also been the older brother, working diligently in the house. doing all the right things. being a “good son,” yet forgetting one key thing—the relationship with my Father. i forget that being a son means actually being a son, instead of just being an employee of the Father.
see, the two brothers had more in common that they realized. neither one was secure in their sonship. neither one realized what they had, and more importantly whose they were.
but both were sons, regardless of what they did, what they said, or the distance they traveled—whether that was physical or simply the distance from their heart to their head.
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