We all get a little lost sometimes.
Erin sent me to Ikea to buy a box of utensils once. Hours later (and my 15th trip past the lighting section) Ikea staff approached me and asked if I was doing ok? I responded “I will purchase whatever I have to if you’ll only tell me how to find the exit!” I was a little lost.
The prodigal son got a little lost in one of the best known stories in the Bible (try Luke 15). Now it’s easy to listen to Jesus tell this story and instantly judge the younger son in the story. He “cashed in” his inheritance and spent it all on himself. He was a Taker.
We sometimes cash in on our relationships. We get selfish or insecure. We get caught in addictions. We take and we end up in the same pigpen that the prodigal son found himself in. Then we wonder why God (represented by the father in the story) won’t come to the pigpen and feel sorry for us, or bail us out. If He really loved us, how could He watch us walk away from Him and not stop us? The trouble is, WE are the ones who left, not Him. But takers tend to get angry at others when our frustrations are really about us.
You know you are a little lost if there is an area in your life you are feeling pain in. Not always, but most of the time. These are the steps the prodigal had to take:
- Look up. Be honest about what’s really happening. Get an honest opinion from someone who won’t just tell you what you want to hear.
- Get up. Use your own legs. Nobody is able to help you with this one. Dad’s not coming to the pigpen. You have to decide for yourself.
- Come home. This will cost you your pride.
The father in the story met the son on the road home, and He’ll meet you too. His eye is ever on the road.
The older brother was a Giver. Younger brother comes home and older brother gets mad. It’s funny that neither of the sons were actually in the house. The older brother gets mad at dad because he cared more about his sons than the inheritance. You see, the younger brother spent the inheritance while the older brother kept it.
My generation left church.
Did we cash in the inheritance and leave? Be honest about it. Yeah, the older brother was a bit of a responsible jerk so we were glad to leave him, but at what cost? We sort of ran out of supplies didn’t we? We didn’t know that the real treasure was our relationship with the father. The inheritance was just the by-product of that. No father, and the river eventually runs dry. We left home, but what else did we leave?
Sometimes I feel like the older brother too though. I stayed behind and paid the bills. Living with the inheritance has certainly benefited me and my family over the years, but how would I really feel if the prodigals came home? They don’t smell very good anymore (no offense:). They have some problems.
Some people take a snapshot of the church. They leave when it doesn’t look like it did the first year they came. The younger brother took a snapshot and left. The older brother took a snapshot when the prodigal came home and didn’t like it. Neither flexed with the changes and it cost them. No video.
What worries me is not IF the prodigals are going to come home.
Without a change of heart, the next prodigal might be the older brother.