identifying with the sons
It’s likely that at some point, you’ve heard this parable especially in relation to people coming to know God for the first time. I’ll be honest, I’ve heard this parable so many times that when now it’s used in sermons, I sometimes zone out. But I noticed something I hadn’t before. There are several verses in the bible about God being the Father of orphans, but this passage isn’t one of them. The prodigal son actually already knew his father and knew he was a son and then he left.
Maybe you’ve never dealt with doubt in God before - I pray that you never have to. But for a lot of us, at some point in time, we’re going to wonder, “What’s the point of all of this?”. It’s interesting, because I find myself being both brothers over and over, almost as if being one brother leads to becoming the other if I’m not careful. For me, I think the cycle usually starts by being the older brother, actually. I slave away for God, hoping to impress him and earn my keep in his house. I do all of the things I think I’m “supposed” to do, and eventually I see someone else get what I’m working for without even trying. I ask, “Why am I doing all of this if You’re never going to deliver me from anxiety? Why am I serving you if people who don’t even know You look happier than me?”
This usually leads me into becoming the younger brother who gets frustrated and says, “Just give me my life and let me go do what I want to. You’re not making me happy anyways!” Eventually, I think I begin doing what the prodigal son does, rehearsing what I’m going to say to the father when I see him to convince him to let me come back. I tell him I’ll do whatever he wants me to, I’ll serve Him however he wants. So then why don’t I end up like the prodigal son in this story? Back in the Father’s arms forever?
end the cycle
It’s because I won’t accept the Father’s embrace upon my return. I don’t let God have compassion on me and kiss me and love me. Instead I choose to begin the cycle again and to start working to earn His love and return to the older brother who “is always with [God] and everything [God] has is his” but who won’t accept it.
God won’t let you replace His love for anything. It’s the one and only thing that will transform you into the son who is forever in the Father’s arms.
God, let these revelations hit my heart. Let who You are as a loving Father light up my life. I humbly accept your love for me.