Of all of the the people in this parable (referring to the blog post from April 19), I think the father is my favorite. My husband and I were talking about this the other day, and we were trying to figure out why he gave the son his inheritance early. Was it because he didn’t want his son to be mad at him, so he gave him what he asked for? Was it because he just didn’t want an argument? What do you think?
I think he felt the need for the son to learn the lesson on his own. The father probably talked to the son for a while explaining to him the importance of why he shouldn’t take the money. He knew that it was a bad idea and that it would only get his son into trouble, so he didn’t want to give it to him. However, the son probably continued to ask for it, and the father finally gave him what he wanted knowing that the outcome wouldn’t be pretty.
I think about this on so many different levels. As a mother, I can certainly see where the father was coming from. My husband and I try to explain to our kids that we don’t always let them do what they want because it is our job to protect them. Because we have lived life a lot longer than they have, we know what will happen, and we want to keep them from any hurt or harm. However, there are times when we have to allow them to fail in order to learn from natural consequences.
I remember when Elijah was a little younger than 3. We got him a chocolate shake after lunch, and he had already eaten a lot of food. Since sweets are a rare treat for our kids, he was overjoyed. We told him that eating too much of that chocolate shake will make him sick. It didn’t matter, though. He just kept slurping away. Sure enough he threw up not long after finishing it. We could have taken it away when we saw he kept drinking it. We warned him a few times, but he thought he knew better. Even though it was 3 years ago, he still remembers it. He now knows to stop eating/drinking when his tummy is full no matter how good it tastes. Had we taken it away from him, he would never have known why we didn’t want him to finish the drink, and it would be something we would struggle with again.
I know it’s nothing as big as what happened between this father and son, but it’s the same principle. The father didn’t want his son to hurt. He wanted him to be successful and responsible, but a parent can only do so much. The father let him learn the lesson on his own. I would bet the father prayed constantly for his son. Yes, bad things happened, and he was miserable. Even though he may have had moments thinking he was going to die, or even wishing he would, God kept him safe. Keep that in mind when you’re going through struggles and wonder why God is punishing you or why all the bad things seem to happen to you. Things are not always how they appear, but I’ll go into that with another post one day.
As the father prayed for his son, God was listening. God was probably the one who put that thought in the son’s head – Why don’t I just go back home where my dad can hire me? His servants have plenty of food.
But look at what the dad did. He didn’t point fingers or say “I told you so.” He didn’t turn his son away. He embraced him and celebrated his return! It’s difficult for us to relate to this because our fathers are all sinners just like we are, and this is not the typical way they would respond. The reason Jesus told this parable was to show that he receives us with open arms if we come back after turning away from him.
Have you been at a place where you’ve made such bad decisions that you think God doesn’t want to have anything to do with you? Please know that’s not true. Please know that God loves you so much. I don’t know of anything my kids could do to make me not love them. I love them more than I ever knew I could love. God, however, loves us even more than that. It’s unimaginable for me. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt him when we rebel or turn away from him. It also doesn’t mean that we have free reign to do what we want with the plan of coming back later to be forgiven. That’s completely taking advantage of what he does for us, and we are not guaranteed tomorrow.
If you have made some decisions and feel like God doesn’t care about you anymore, I ask you to step back and pray for forgiveness for those sins, and be still and feel God’s love surrounding you. If you would like prayer but just don’t know who to go to, please don’t hesitate to contact me, and I would love to pray for you.
*****This parable always brings a story to my mind. I grew up in a small, country church, and there was a song that they often played while reciting a story. I haven’t heard it in a long time, but even after all these years it brings tears to my eyes. Whether you’ve heard it before or not, I ask that you watch this video of a group reciting this same story. It’s called The Apple Tree Story, and the song in the background is called Lord, I’m Coming Home. Enjoy your day today, and remember that God tells you that you can always come back ~ You can always come home.