The Prodigal’s Father

It dawns on me as I have seen many people in the world today go through many struggles and strife, that there are many who might be in a better position had they had parents like that of the prodigal son. If you are unfamiliar with this parable which Jesus shared with his followers, it revolves around a young man who was the son of a very wealthy man. In this story, the young man asks his father to give him his portion of the inheritance which had been set aside for him. The father did not object, and lovingly gave him the inheritance. The tragedy in the story is that the young son lived a lavish, extravagant life of excess, and when an economic crisis hit, he was found so bad off that he was eating amongst the pigs.

REMBRANDT The Return of the Prodigal Son (deta...

REMBRANDT The Return of the Prodigal Son (detail) c. 1669 Oil on canvas, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Knowing that even his father’s servants lived better than that, he determined within himself to return home and ask to be allowed to return, hoping that at the very least, he could fare as well as them. To his surprise and even his own elder brother, he was welcomed home with open arms, was cleaned up, given every privilege that he once had, just as if nothing had happened.

This is such a testament to forgiveness and restoration, that I wonder what it would be like to see this happen in the present day. It is true that many people leave home and make poor and even foolish decisions regarding money, investments and various other life choices. However, what might it look like, if parents looked beyond what went wrong, to what went right? It takes great humility to return home.

What I find amazing about this young man’s father is that unlike the brother, he does not condemn him for the errors of his ways. He does not chastise him, or turn him away, lauding his having his own affairs in order. Instead, he tearfully and graciously welcomes him, knowing that the family is incomplete so long as he was not there or well. This father did not permit the son to lower himself to the status of a servant. He restored him to his place as a son, placing a ring on his finger, clean clothes on his back, and preparing a feast to rejoice over his safe return.

I don’t propose to know what your life has been like in the midst of these last few years of economic downturn. However, I believe that there are people who fully know the fate of their families that have not fared so well, and are in a position to raise them up and restore them. If we believe that God is the kind of God who does this, and most often through people, what wondrous thing would it be to know that there are many more stories like this could be told?

QUESTION: Have you faced a situation like the prodigal son and wished that you had parents like his? Are you a parent who wishes that your prodigal child would return so that you could know the same joy? What’s your story?

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