“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything there was a severe famine in that whole country. and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said. . . ‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father” (Luke 15: 13-20).
Is this your story? Have you ever demanded your way? Have you ever left someone or somewhere in anger? Have you ever decided, “I don’t care what anyone says, I’m going to do what I want to do? Have you ever experienced the equivalent of “spending your wealth in wild living?” Have you then later “come to your senses” and realized you want nothing more than to return home – to the people who love you? Have you ever wondered, given all the hurt you have caused, how you can go home?
I believe this young man’s story is everyone’s story. We all have left a path, experienced more than we ever wanted to, failed more than we every expected to, and now feel more bereft and alone than we think we can handle. Can you imagine this younger son’s pain? He demanded his inheritance and spent it all. He lived a wild and unintentional life, governed by his passions. When all his friends left him, he had nothing – except a job feeding pigs and envying their meal. He feels that he has no value; he has squandered his worth and is prepared to live as a servant in his father’s house.
Like the younger son, I have hurt people very close to me. In a mad search for love and approval and in an attempt to fix the emptiness in my heart, I, for decades, littered my path with people I pulled too close and people I left behind. When I finally “came to my senses,” I was overwhelmed with guilt. I had left broken relationships with seemingly no way to redeem myself. Counseling helped me understand the mad search, but did little to remove the guilt. Only a real and honest connection with the Father redeemed my heart so I could come home – broken and somehow whole.
The story of the younger son in this parable is everyone’s story. We are saved from our misery when we hear “welcome home!” from the Father who loves us anyway. Now that we are home, our role as apprentices of Jesus is to open our arms and welcome other broken people into our Father’s house, for He has prepared a home for each of us there.
Check out the first post in this series of five from Luke 15. Also find information on Margaret Adams Parker’s Sculpture Reconciliation which is located on the campus of Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina.