The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-20) is a story of forgiveness, second chances and retracing one’s footsteps. It is the story of a wayward son who returned home after squandering his inheritance, to meet a very loving forgiving father that he had once wronged.
In my world, I often imagine myself as the father of the prodigal son and I marvel at how lenient the father was towards his son. Were it to be me, I would give that son a piece of my mind. I wouldn’t spare him, Oh no I wouldn’t. I might probably start with “Junior, so you have decided to join us again eeh? What happened to your great business plan, the great life that lay ahead you? And what’s that pig smell lingering on you?” I might also find it amusing watching him grovel seeking mercy.
Eventually I might forgive him though. However, that does not mean I would forget. No way would I forget! and if I did, it would take a while. I would keep rubbing it in; “Ehen Junior, come ooh, we are short of wheat by a bag, please let’s cut your next month salary to make up for it ooh, you owe us that.”
And that is me, imagining, if it were me. I also keep wondering how his father just forgave him, with no conditions or requirements. He did not stop there, he restored him to his former glorious position and celebrated his return. Now that is quite generous, and that is our heavenly Father- generous. He chastises, He forgives, forgets and clothes us in splendor. He does not keep a record of wrong, because love does not keep a record of wrong and our God is love. And that is the very essence of the parable, the unquantifiable love of God.
Another side of this story however has got me thinking, the side of the prodigal son. I wonder to myself, what happened to this son that’s he could not invest his money wisely in some profitable venture. It is obvious he participated in running his father’s business, so why couldn’t he continue when he left home, he could have opened up his own complex, he had his father’s name, his share of all he had worked for, which I presume is a lot of money, but he just didn’t think. Instead he went drinking and partying and after women, forgetting that someday his money would run out. It is different when a son decides to leave home for a different part of the country to open up a new branch, in which case the aim is expansion, and father and son are still working together. No, this son decided that it was time to leave home, he was done and he wanted to be on his own. But in my opinion, that son was just plain stupid. If he had been wise, the story would have ended differently. Jesus could have told it as the story of the wise son.
But who ever got wise from leaving the fountain of wisdom? and that was when I saw the missing message that was only inferred. All that the son was came from the father- his wisdom, his business acumen, his substance. The moment he took his cut and left, he left the source of all he had, it was only a matter of time before he ran out.
It is the same with us and our heavenly Father. All that we are, and all that we can ever be stems from him. Packing up and leaving with the reward of all we have worked might not seem such a bad idea. Wanting to be independent of the father might not seem wrong. The truth, however, is that you might not make the best of decisions away from the fountain of knowledge. This is one place where independence from parents is not a sign of maturity, but total dependence is the ideal. We all need a daily dose of God to make decisions, to thrive, and to sustain our substance.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. -John 15:4-5