As I have said before, everyone has a story, and every story should be told. Here’s one Jesus told about a father and his two boys.
“To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet and kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Luke 15:11-24 NLT)
Here’s the story of a father and two sons. Notice, two sons. This chapter will discuss the younger prodigal only. I’ll reserve comments pertaining to the older son for the next chapter.
Note that Jesus told this story to further illustrate a point He made earlier, which was “there is great joy in Heaven when something lost is found.” And if there’s great joy in Heaven, there should be great joy here on earth as well.
If you lose something as common as a paper clip, not much effort is exerted in finding it. Why? Because it is easily replaced and has so little value. But if you lose something, say, your wedding ring, you will not stop looking until it is found. Then, when found, you rejoice with joy unspeakable! The value of the thing lost determines the degree of gratitude.
Remember this: most of the time the thing lost doesn’t realize it’s lost until it’s found. I didn’t understand how lost I was or how much He loved and valued me until He “reached down” through His Son Jesus, and made me a new person.
“A man had two sons. The younger son told his father…” Say what you will, but I really doubt the younger son intended, or planned, on living a wild life separated from his home. He did not plan on getting “lost” anymore than you or I do when we start on a trip with or without directions. Part of growing up is developing independence, which would include trying to make it on his own. Whatever the motive, the father granted his request and divided his wealth between his two sons. Shortly afterward, the younger one hit the road and traveled to a distant land.
Distant land. Ever visit one? So exotic, so appealing, and so much fun! Meet new people, try new food, take gobs of pictures, and experience a side of life many, if not all, of your friends and family have never known.
But this young man didn’t buy a round trip ticket to the distant land. His trip was not a vacation, but a permanent move. He was going to make something of his life. He soon began to walk, talk, think, dream, spend money, and party like the locals. And for a while, all seemed fine.
It’s amazing how well and how quickly the young man could adapt to such a different way of living. Though new to the area, he learned the customs and culture of the land that was far from Father’s Farm.
Popularity. My, how popular this young man became. All the city leaders, merchants, and entertainers welcomed him. His winsome smile, bulging pockets, and small town ways made him an easy target for their schemes designed to separate the man from the money.
Women! He’d never even dreamed of a world like he was experiencing! Why hadn’t his father told him about this side of life? Did his father even know such a place existed? What about his older brother, the “never-spend-a-dime-of-my-own-money” guy? What was he doing with HIS inheritance? Probably the same thing he’d always done with his money. Nothing!
Well, he wasn’t going to act like his older brother! No, sir! He was going to get the most out of life, even if it killed him!
With every pretty girl hitting on him, merchants and peddlers selling him everything but what he really needed, it didn’t take too long to waste his money, lose his companions, and find himself alone. Alone. Something he hadn’t experienced since leaving home. Alone.
Kind of funny, the things you think about when you’re alone. Memories continue to wash over your mind like waves upon a shore; washing away the hamburger wrappers, used napkins, beer cans and cigarette butts left over from last night’s party. Cleansing your mind, revealing memories of life like it used to be. Life with love. Life with father. If only…