Lessons from the Prodigal – Part 1

By Ricky Chelette

The story of the prodigal son is a parable of loss, love and redemption. We often think the story is only about wayward children, or a kind father; but we couldn’t be more misguided.

We will spend the next few weeks looking at this powerful parable shared by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke 15:11-32.

“There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.” – Luke 15:11-16

I’ve always been amazed by the beginning of this story because the son makes a serious request with no apparent resistance from the father. Simply put, he asks for his inheritance, gets it, and leaves the security and protection of his father’s home. It doesn’t take the son long to make poor choices and soon quickly depletes his inheritance on wild living. Alienated, alone, without meaningful employment, and begging for food, the son is in a new dilemma.

But notice the father’s response. Do you see it? There is none. You see the Father didn’t go where the son was. The father stayed home, looking to the horizon; praying for the return of his beloved son.

I believe what the Lord is trying to communicate to us is the father will indeed allow us to do what it is we want to do if we insist on doing it. But when He allows us to receive what we want, he also allows us to experience the consequences of those poor choices.

Do you really want God to give you what you desire? Is your desire in line with His will or in direct opposition to it?

If you are a parent with a child who has taken their inheritance and moved into the far country, are you willing to surrender your prodigal to the Lord’s care, knowing that He loves them even more than you do? Are you willing to allow them to experience the consequences of their actions even if those consequences result in your child competing with pigs for food? Or are you chasing them and joining them in the far country, hoping to somehow lessen the pain you know is inevitable?

The truths from this passage are sobering but sanctifying:
Sometimes God will give you what you want even when it is not what you need.
Rebellion has consequences and God allows us to experience those consequences.
Sometimes the bottom of the pit is the place God’s voice is the clearest.
Good parents trust God and don’t always rescue.

What lessons have you learned from your time in the far country?