Occasionally my son comes home to do his laundry. I suppose life catches up with him and his laundry loads get too full. Our home is close, convenient and free. The “prodigal” son didn’t actually become prodigal until after he left home. He was young, inexperienced and when life caught up with him, he eventually came up short. There are times when my son’s visit is inconvenient, but never am I unhappy to see him. While he may have left home to live on his own, he didn’t leave our relationship. I thank God that I am able to receive him and his laundry. But when he came to himself he said, I will get up and go to my father… (Luke 15:1-2,11-32).”
But when he came to himself… Luke 15:11-32 I really like this part of the story, the moment at which a wayward child has a “revelation” about her life. After having made a series of bad decisions we can find ourselves in some of the worst conditions physically, emotionally and spiritually. One of the things I gather from this parable is that the prodigal son has come to this revelation by way of his life experience. He made up his mind about what he wanted and his Father gives it to him. We often want our children to make the decisions we have already laid out for them forgetting that God has a plan for them in the same way he has one for us. It’s usually not the same plan.
Once in a conversation with an aunt about my concerns for some of the decisions made by my son, I expressed some frustration. She in turn shared that her daughter was dealing with something similar with her son. Then she said; “Sometimes you have to let them do what they have in their mind to do even though you already know exactly what is going to happen as a result of the choice they’ve made. When that happens you just love them more. As painful as it sometimes is to watch your child on a not-so-wise path, the joy that you receive when they “come to themselves” is overwhelming.” I didn’t ask but I suspect that she was speaking from her own experience, assuring me that my joy would be the same. So my prayer for us today is that, if in our foolishness we feel as though we’ve lost everything, we too will “come to ourselves” and know that God loves us more than we could ever fathom, and is especially joyous when we redirect ourselves back into his fold.
Luke 15:11-32 “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.