Date: October 8, 2017
Speaker: Jim Stanley
Series: Discipled to Disciple
Text: Luke 15:11-32
"But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."' Luke 15:17-19
The first definition of “prodigal” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure.” In the story of the “prodigal son” it describes his lifestyle when he left home and lived in the “far country.” He misused and wasted the resources of his inheritance to such an extent that, in short order, everything was gone. To make matters worse circumstance provided a severe famine which limited the opportunity to replenish what had been squandered.
We find he is willing to make to effort to improve the situation but his efforts were inadequate! Clearly he was starving. He had come to an end of himself.
If we were to put ourselves in his shoes we would look for two things. When have we left the fold of our family life with the Lord and how have we wastefully squandered the resources He has provided. The two go hand in hand! Staying put with Christ, abiding in Him, not only safeguards the way we use our resources but offers an ongoing supply; as Jesus put it “a fountain of water springing up to everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Likewise, setting out in independent pursuit of the things the world values will quickly exaust the good gifts our heavenly Father has provided. The soon discover that the things that had drawn us were a mirage. They attracted us and pulled us away but once we arrived, we found they had no substance and, rather than satisfying sucked us dry and left us empty.
The paths to that place are multi-faceted, but the result is the same. Like the prodigal, we find we have come to an end of ourselves. Our resources can no longer meet the need. We are empty, broken, alone and filled with shame. We can’t imagine how the loving God we willfully left behind could ever take us back. None of it was His fault! It was all me!
At this point in the struggle the thought came to the prodigal that any return to the resources and blessings of home would be better than staying where he was. He was willing to return to the Father as a slave. He was ready to make a complete and definite change. In returning he left everything else behind. He determined to throw himself on the mercy of the Father and admit the sinful choices that led him away in the first place.
Because of the unfailing love of the Father, the story ends well! He is welcomed back not as a slave but as a forgiven and restored son. That is the way it always is for every child who is willing to forsake and return. For many the issue is coming to the end of oneself. It is not easy to admit that nothing you have tried is working, that your direction has been so self-centered and worthless. But, honesty is the first step to restoration. Once the reality is admitted, the steps back toward the Father are the only ones that make sense, and the reality of the joy of the Father’s embrace quickly overshadow the shame and pain of willful failure.
In coming back the devotion of the younger son quickly eclipsed that of the older son who never left. Whether we have left and returned or we never left at all, there is a place of rest, dependence and love in the presence of our Lord that must remain fresh and new. Being at home is as much about the day to day relationship as it is the privilege of being a child of God. One connects closely to the other. Both together provide the fullest life possible for the believer in Jesus!