June 21 I Sunday
“The younger [son] said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So [the father] divided his property between them.” —Luke 15:12
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a familiar story about the relationship between a father and his sons. The younger of the two asked his father for his share of the inheritance, which his father gives him. The son then travels to a distant land, squanders his money on reckless living and finds himself at the lowest of low. He comes to his senses and returns home, completely humbled and wanting to earn his keep as a servant. The father is overjoyed at his son’s return and immediately makes preparations for a celebration.
Billy Strachan, a Christian teacher, once asked what people thought was the best part of this story. Some said it was when the son finally comes to his senses and returns home. Others thought it was the father showing his love at his son’s return. But Billy chose what many would think was the worst part—when the father gives his son his share of the inheritance and lets him go.
Fathers know their sons, and this father would have known exactly how his son was going to squander his newfound wealth. Why then did he give him the money? The answer is love; the same love God shows us by giving us a free will. It is a high-risk love, but just as the father did not force his son to stay at home, our Heavenly Father allows us to choose which way we will go, despite the risk.
God did not create us as robots designed to obey Him, but as free creatures with the ability to choose. The son was hungry, penniless and longing for the pods he fed the pigs. He wanted to go back home and make up for his behaviour, but the father faced a different issue. Jesus tells us, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms round him and kissed him”(Luke 15:20). The father does not mention squandered money or reckless living but welcomes his son home extravagantly by immediately planning a celebration. The son’s actions were a symptom of the real issue the father faced: a broken relationship.
That is our primary issue with God, not where we have been or what we have done, but putting our relationship right with Him. Rock bottom is often where God will meet us, revealing things in such a way that we “come to our senses” and in humility realize our very real need for Him. Like the father in the parable, our Heavenly Father stands on the threshold, waiting joyously to welcome us back.
Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us a free will to choose and for always being there to welcome me back, even when I have sinned and strayed from You. I am in awe of Your compassion and love. Praise You!