Introduction: THE CONTEXT FOR THIS STUDY IS LUKE 15:10~31. EMPHASIS IS PLACED MOST LARGELY ON VERSES 14-19, WHERE WE COME UPON A NOT SO PRETTY PICTURE. I SUGGEST AGAIN THAT YOU READ THE SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT PRAYERFULLY FOR YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WORRY ABOUT WHAT SOMEONE ELSE MAY THINK. YOUR INSIGHTS AND DISCOVERIES WILL PROBABLY BE AS VALID AS ANYTHING ANYONE ELSE FINDS . . . AND THEY MAY BE EVEN MORE VALUABLE TO YOU BECAUSE THEY’RE YOURS! ~dk
I keep reminding me of my reason for doing this site, namely: to provide reason for hope, assurance of your personal worth in God’s sight, and help for anyone who may have felt lost or forgotten or worthless to find the “way back home.”
The story Jesus told about the “Waiting Father” with two lost sons, is a wonderful story about such possibilities. While we aren’t familiar with the customs of the ancient times, it’s very clear in Jesus’ mind that the younger son in his story had committed some grievous offenses. Not the least of which was breaking his Dad’s heart. The points must not be lost: (1.) We are more often like one of the sons. . . either the one impulsively or deliberately doing wrong, leaving “home” and wasting his life living selfishly or recklessly with complete disregard for his father or the consequences. Or, (2), perhaps, we fit more into the role of the self-righteous son who stayed behind sitting in harsh indignation and self-righteous judgment of the brother who “wasted” his life and still managed to work his way back into the Father’s good graces. I mean, after all, wasn’t he the law-abiding, church-going, respectable “rock?”
Have you ever experienced or observed sibling rivalry that’s degenerated into angry envy?
For the third figure, Jesus paints the picture of the waiting father as being very much like our Heavenly Father. Patient. Loving. Forgiving. Welcoming us back and not holding our sins/mistakes against us. Even trying to reconcile the wild, rebellious “young buck” with the cautious, calculating older brother.
The story is a powerful picture of another “Comeback Kid.” You can put your own name and face in any place where it fits.
As I reflect, I keep looking specifically for (1.) reasons he “messed up” (That’s my attempt to find a apt ‘catch-all’ term that describes a wide variety of major and minor sins on our part.). (2.) How he made his “comeback.” And (3.) how, therefore, I also may “come back” when I’ve failed, fallen, gotten tripped up, pushed, shoved, crushed or beaten up in defeat, ground up, chewed up & spit out or whatever.
After the last post, this thought emerged and weighed heavy on my mind. THE PRODIGAL HAD TO MAKE A DECISION. That is so obvious I almost overlooked it! Think a bit. T.P. felt bad. Really bad! As he well should have. He was as low as he could go, and he could have just stayed there and wallowed and rotted in self-pity. And been forgotten for all time!
As unlikely as it may seem, this scene became the setting for what Dr. Billy Graham would later call: an “hour of Decision!” Without the benefit of a mirror, the young man took a long, honest, hard look at himself and did not at all like what he saw. He understood perfectly what he had become and where he was headed. At that precise moment, something clicked inside: “That’s enough of this nonsense!” he must have said. “My Father treats his hired help better than this. This is not where I belong, and I’m not going to stay here a moment longer. I’m going home.”
That was his decision. The speech he composed there and rehearsed on the way home was secondary. The main thing is: “He DECIDED.” He put his will in gear! It was never enough that he felt bad, or was ashamed or heart broken. Emotion does not have a lot to do with his “comeback.” Reason wasn’t the final factor that did it. Any rational person would have agreed he’d made a mess, and T.P. could have said “you know, you’re absolutely right!” and stayed in the mess. It had to do with volition at this point. The DECISION was made at the level of his WILL. And when he realized the gravity of the wrong he’d done and the mess he’d made of his life, his regrets (emotion) affirmed what his mind (his reason) confirmed.
Added together, that produced the smartest decision he’d made in a long, long time. Perhaps the smartest decision he’d made in his life. I can see him slinging the slop bucket across the pen, sending the pigs squealing, giving them a “permanent wave” (I actually heard an old Southern preacher use that once as a sermon title!). Maybe he’d actually been inside the pen “slopping the hawgs,” and I can see him summoning strength and joy he’d forgotten he had, and with a happy whoopee, vaulting over the fence, pausing only long enough to get his bearings. . . and striking out for HOME!
But if you think HIS joy was great, wait till you see his Father’s reception. And wait until you hear Jesus say: “There’s joy in heaven over the lost son’s return!”
Whatever mistakes I may have made for whatever reasons, feeling bad about them is not all that needs to be done. Guilt. Bitter shame. Remorse. . . None of it is worth a trough full of hog slop! I need to make a decision. When the Bible uses the word: “Repent,” that is what the writer has in mind. I need to sop going in the wrong direction. The Military says it exactly: “Halt!” Dead in your tracks. “About Face!” Then “Forward march!” in the opposite direction.
Life has a way of forcing us to make decisions. We get hemmed in and must decide to do something about our situation. If you’ve run out of options and all it seems you deal too often with are dead-ends, that just may be God’s way of making you face yourself. And helping you to “come to your senses” and decide to return to Him.
A servant, a brother, friend, and fellow student ~donkimrey~
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