My heart goes out to the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 because I can relate to his struggle to find what was waiting for him at home all along. I didn’t go searching for fame or fortune as he did; I simply wanted to be loved.
I feel for the older brother who is miserable in his servitude and has neither compassion nor joy for his lost brother who is now saved. He misses the opportunity to celebrate because of his own misery. Misery does indeed love company, and it keeps me from much joy. The older brother isn’t broken, and brokenness is part of the path to God. Without it, I cannot relate to the brokenness of the world. God brings His righteousness to me through His precious Son. Until I am broken, I cannot understand or appreciate the cost of that righteousness. When I depend upon my own righteousness to be enough, I am as disappointed as the older son in the story.
Repentance requires that I admit my sin and confess it to God, and that is never easy. It humbles and reminds me of the plan God put into place before He formed the world. Christ is dismissed when I think I can be good enough or work hard enough to make things right in my relationship with Him. The only way to repair my relationship with God is admit I’m broken and in need of His righteousness.
When I do that, I find myself in the position of the prodigal son, eating slop with the pigs rather than sitting at the table celebrating with God. Until I come to that place of desolation and hurt, I cannot begin to make my way back to His table. The older son believes he deserves to be honored for all he’s done, and that is a worse position than coming to the understanding that I deserve to eat with the pigs. Heartfelt confession changes my heart and mind in a way that allows me to live the praying life God desires.
Prayer begins with acknowledging God is Who He says He is. Who I am and who I am not then becomes painfully clear. The prodigal found his way home, and it was well worth the time and money it took for him to find it. The father was a good father who understood that well. God is the best Father and knows my wandering heart needed the lessons of the humbling path I chose. Coming to the place of confession is a crossroad where I must choose the direction I will take. The prodigal could have stayed and wallowed in self pity, convinced himself it was best to stay away from those he loved, or simply given up. Many do just that. It’s why Christ tells this powerful story. I can go back to those I love after being lost, but I must go with a clear understanding of who I am and Who God is. Then, God will celebrate with me. Not everyone will be happy when the lost find their way to God, especially if they take the path of the prodigal, but they can miss the celebration if they want to, it’s their choice just as it is mine to come home and celebrate with God.
Lessons in living the praying life are promising to be a greater challenge than those lessons in love! The open arms of the father in the story of the prodigal son are a glimpse of the glorious welcome God has in mind for me. It is a story of hope from the God of hope, and I needed it this week. I guess that’s why He put it in my path:)