The story of the prodigal son is a familiar one to me. I’ve grown up in church and cannot count the number of times I’ve heard the story. The story is found in Luke chapter 15. Basically, a son ask his father for his inheritance, leaves home and waste everything that was given to him on drinking, girls, and gambling.
In fact, the dictionary defines prodigal as: spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant…having or giving something on a lavish scale.
The prodigal lived a reckless and wasteful lifestyle.
As the story goes, the prodigal finds himself completely out of money. He is now working as a farmhand who is hired to care for the pigs, but he is so hungry and has no means that he seriously contemplates eating the pigs’ slop. He then remembers his father’s house and how his father’s servants live better than he is at that moment. They have shelter, food and everything they need. So, he decides he will return home, confess he has done wrong and ask his father if he could be a servant.
Notice he does not return home because he is sorrowful for the pain he has caused his father, it does not mention that he’s even aware that his father is in pain. He wants to go home simply because he is in need and understands his needs can be met at the father’s house. He has an understanding that his only hope to survive is at the father’s house. Sometimes, that’s all a prodigal knows of the father, and that is enough.
Maybe this is what made the older brother so angry when he found out the prodigal had returned, and the father was throwing a party. “Is he even sorry?” the brother may have thought. “Did he repent, truly repent, fall on his face and repent to you father? Does he understand the pain and suffering he has caused you? And yet you restored him just as if nothing has happened, throw a party for him, restore all the benefits without requiring anything from him!”
There are so many things we could say about the brother’s reaction but today I concentrate on the other character in this story. No, not the prodigal but the father. Although most of us can relate to the prodigal, we can point to a time in our own lives when we left the father’s house and returned to find that there is no other place we’d rather be, but there are others today who relate to the father because they have their own prodigal. It may be your son or daughter, a niece, a nephew, cousin, even parent, or a friend.
Luke 11:20 And he [the son] arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
I often thought about the father seeing his son from “a long way off”, I would picture a worried father, pacing the front porch back and forth, wringing his hands, looking down the road in hope that one day he would see his son on that road walking toward home. But one day the Lord corrected me. I had the story wrong, I had a wrong picture.
You see, the father was indeed standing on the front porch waiting for the son’s return, but not pacing, worried and wondering if his son would return home. No, rather he waited on the front porch in faith, confident of his son’s return. Staring at the road knowing he would soon see his son’s silhouette heading back home, and the moment he saw it, he ran to meet him.
The father did not wait for the son to make it all the way to the front porch before he met him. He made it easy as possible for the prodigal to return, all the prodigal had to do was take one step back home and it was the father that closed the gap, covered the distance between them and before the son could even finish his sentence, the father made immediate restoration of all a son should have.
Knowing that the heavenly father stands in faith for your prodigal’s return, you too can stand in faith. Our heavenly father makes it easy for that prodigal to come home, meeting them before they ever reach the front door. The father does not require they clean up first before he hugs them. He does not require a long speech of repentance before he restores them. There is no way for them to know or completely understand just how much pain they have caused and yet, the father restores them completely.
They have not lost their position as a son or daughter, the prodigal in the story thought there was no way he could return to the same position he had before, the position of a son with all the benefits that brings. He thought he would have to be less but the father made it clear, there would be nothing less than immediate and full restoration without question.
I stand in agreement and in faith with you today, your prodigal is on their way home. We stand together on the front porch looking down the road, not with eyes of worry but with eyes of faith, confident of their return. We are assured that God is doing everything he can to make it easy for them to come home. AND WHEN THEY DO, there will be hugging, full restoration and maybe even a party too.
If you are a prodigal wondering if you can or should come home, I would say to you: come home. Take it from a recovered prodigal, it will be alright. Someone is waiting for you, waiting to hug your neck and restore all that is rightfully yours.