2003-09-03 - Prodigal Son
Originally Published 2001-02-21
The story of the Prodigal Son is probably one of the best-recognized parables. It is my personal favorite. For both Christians and non-Christians, this is a very applicable story for today. Follow along with me during the next several weeks, as we journey alongside the prodigal son and retrace the footprints of our own life journeys over his footprints. We will walk slowly, careful not to miss our Savior's teaching. Come; let's take a walk together.
Luke 15:12-12 (The Message) Then he said, "There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, 'Father, I want right now what's coming to me.'"
"Give me." From birth throughout life, our human nature seems to scream out, "give me!" Our hyperspeed technological society wants everything "right now." We crave instant gratification of our desires. But have you noticed that the more quickly you are satisfied, the faster you lose that joy? Instant gratification is like a drug. "Quick -- give me another fix!"
In my profession as a real estate appraiser, I have the unique opportunity to go into people's homes and meet a wide cross-section of people in my community. From the seemingly wealthy to struggling laborers, I have seen the consequences of the "quick fix" attitude of instant gratification at some of these homes. (Not all home loan situations are bad.) I have witnessed the damage done by the "give it to me now" attitude. I have seen the abuse of credit cards and easy loans shatter families with stress fractures, and the saddest appraisal experience for me is doing an appraisal on a repossessed home, where I see children's toys still lying around the house.
I am amazed at the despair and despondency in some people's eyes as I enter their homes, after seeing all the grown-up toys outside. Inside, photos of cruises and trips to exotic places line the walls. Outside, two new cars, a boat, jet skis, the latest riding mower and other stuff clutter up the yard, but worse -- they destroy their lives. I listen as some tell me that their home has to appraise for "this much" so that they can pay off their five or six credit cards that are up to the limits. I just think to myself, "for the next thirty years, you are going to be paying for that Jet Ski, that trip to Disney World, that 'one more fix of instant gratification' that never lasted." More often than not, the home loan is not enough to cover the credit card and finance company debt.
The Prodigal Son story, told by Jesus two thousand years ago, has not changed. The son is saying to his father, "give it to me now! Give me now, what is going to be mine later." While I feel like I am a patient, methodical and calculating person, I often find myself thinking, "Well one more deal, one more gain in the stock market, one more something and everything will be alright." Our sinful human natures drive us like that. "Give me one more thing and all will be ok." It's the "when and then" attitude. "When I get that promotion, then we will be set. When we buy this new car, then we will have made it."
As Christians, we know the only thing humans really need is a gift that is free. Our problem is accepting the gift and using the power of the gift. A relationship with Christ is the craving we really seek; it is a desire that will never be fulilled by anything or anyone else. The Prodigal had the same attitude. "Father, give me what is mine now. Watch what I can do apart from you, Father." Or the attitude is "thanks for Christ and for him saving me, God -- but I will take it from here." Next week, we will look at what the Father does and then the results of the son's journey apart from the Father. Let's get out of the "give me" mode and into the "take me" mode with God.
Father, thank You so much for the teaching of the Bible. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus not only to save us, but also to fill a hole in our lives that only He can fill. Open our hearts and minds to Your very relevant Word. In Christ's name. Amen.
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