2003-09-17 - The Prodigal Son
Originally Published 2001-03-07 - Part 3
Luke 15:14-16 (The Message) After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country, and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry, he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.
As we journey with the Prodigal son, we have seen him go from being discontent with his home, to entering an "instant gratification" stage of "give it to me now--" which led to a rebellious stage of "I can do it all on my own." Today we continue to see the consequences of the son's poor choices. While our Father in Heaven has given us the freedom to make choices on our own, He has not given us the option to choose the consequences of those choices.
I still imagine the son going to this distant land, trying to impress people and buy friends with his money. I see him buying rounds of drinks in the bar, buying the latest designer sandals and robes, buying sexual and other illicit favors. As we say here in the South, he was living in "high cotton." But it was short-lived. He thought, as many of us today think, that money was the answer to all his needs. On top of his money running out, the country went into a famine, or in modern terms, a recession. Where were his newfound friends now? Can you see the son going up to some of his bar buddies and saying, "hey, remember me? Can you get me a job at your tent shop?" "Remember all the things I bought you guys?" But apparently his friends evaporated as quickly as his money.
Jesus tells us the son began to hurt, but I think he was still in a state of denial. His denial was lying to himself about his true condition. Often our denial leads us to self-destructive behavior. We may turn to alcohol, drugs, pornography, and/or become immersed in our work, to escape the pains of slipping out of denial. The Prodigal Son was lying to himself about the consequences of his own actions. Although he was hurting, he still thought he was in control. He still was not thinking of his home. So he took the lowest job, and probably the only job he could find, thinking that this, too, was just a temporary situation that he could overcome on his own.
Finally, his hurting overcame his delusion and turned his thoughts back to his home. His hurting made him realize that he had needs that he alone could not fulfill.
Luke 15:17 (TM) That brought him to his senses. He said, "All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death."
What a wonderful verse. When he finally hit "rock bottom," he came to his senses. He came out of his denial and became keenly aware of his predicament. How many of us need to come out of denial -- come out of lying to ourselves about our situation and come to our senses? When do we finally say, "enough is enough of this way I am living? Enough is enough of this running from what I know God wants from me." When do we yield to God's plan and His love for us? When do we acknowledge that apart from Him we are living out of control? Are you yet sick and tired of being sick and tired of your actions?
The son remembered how well his father treated his farmhands. The same farmhands that probably seemed menial to the son, when he was living with his father, now seemed very wealthy. The father treated them with respect and love. Their needs were met.
There is so much to learn from this parable. Today we have seen the son begin to be in want. This want leads to him to reflect on his life, which in turn leads him out of denial. What part or part or parts of your life are you in denial about and need to reflect on? Maybe it is your job. Perhaps it is your keeping up with the Jones' lifestyle of living beyond your means. Is it your relationship with your classmates at school or your teachers? How about your relationship with your parents and other family members? Are you trying to live apart from God? Still running from what you know God is calling you to do? Still denying your own shortcomings and sins? I pray that this week you will join me in really stepping back, slowing down and starting to reflect on your life.
Let's get moving from denial to reflection.
Father- Thank You once again for Your Word. While some call the Bible irrelevant for today, You keep opening our minds and hearts to your teaching. Help us to slow down and take time to reflect on our choices and actions. Help us also, to see where we are lacking and where we need to make some hard choices to change. Keep nudging us to become more like your Son Jesus. In His name we pray, Amen.
Comments or questions?