The parable of the prodigal son seems to be one that you hear often if you grew up going to church. For me, it was easy to reduce it to a story of salvation. I focused on that fact that I too had been the lost son, and I have an eternal celebration with God. The more I heard the story told, the more I noticed that the story is much more than a son who was once lost and now found. The story has a couple other key characters. One of those is the father who was not a disappointed or angry father but one who was filled with compassion.
A lot of times it's easy to see our shortcomings as something that's going to make God more disappointed or angry with us when we come to Him. However, there's the opposite effect that happens. God sees us coming back to Him and has compassion for us. God seeks for us to be found.
The other main character is the other brother. The one who did everything right. The one who didn't squander his inheritance. How did he react? He was upset. His brother had experienced all this pain and was finally home and the only thought the older brother could have was the fact that he hadn't been celebrated for all this time. How much more glorious would the homecoming have been if the other brother had joined in the celebration? Let's not miss the victory in the face of our entitlement.
God, I thank you that you welcome me in my brokenness. You treat me like royalty when I am weary at your feet. Thank you for the compassion you have for me and the gifts you give me. Give me the grace to celebrate freedoms in the way that you do. Amen.
- Daniel Bailey