One of the most famous parables in all of the Bible is the Prodigal Son. I’ve heard this parable so many times in my life that it honestly started to lose meaning to me- that is, until recently.
The parable of the Prodigal Son begins with a father and his two sons. The youngest son asks for his share of his inheritance, and once the dad gives it to him he leaves. He travels to a different country and loses all of his money on things he believes will make him happy.
And for a while, he is content with his sinful life- until he runs out of money.
Now struggling for food and shelter, he decides to take a job working in the field. He feeds pigs, while he himself starves and yearns to have just a taste of the animal’s slop.
So many of his father’s servants had more than enough to eat, why should he continue to suffer?
The youngest son realizes that he would be better off returning to his father. However, this time he would not be returning as an entitled son, but a lowly servant.
The son said, “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” Luke 15:18
He plans to beg his father to treat him as one of his servants, not as his son. And before he can, his father runs to embrace him and forgive him. The dad isn’t hesitant to forgive his son or even a little angry. Instead he hugs him and calls for a feast.
The father said, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” Luke 15:24
However, the older son was jealous and confused. He had stayed with their father and served him for many years, never once straying from his command.
And yet he never got a feast thrown to celebrate him and his friends.
The father understood what his first son was feeling. He reassured his eldest son that because he always stayed with him, all of his possessions were also the son’s. But that they should be celebrating their brother’s return, for he was ready to let go of his sinful life.
“It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” Luke 15:31
The first time I heard this story was when I was in Sunday school. My teacher asked us which son we thought we were more like. Almost everyone else raised their hand for the eldest son, not believing they would ever abandon God.
I, not fully understanding the whole meaning of the story, thought I’d be much more like the younger one. I, too, like to spend money so I related to the second son.
And yet, now that I’m older, I’ve realized I’m similar to the younger son in more ways than just our money spending habits.
I’m at a time in my life where it seems like nobody else around me is focused on God.
He is absent from my thoughts, actions, and conversations. And each week before the alter, I tell myself and God that I’ll fix it.
And lately, each week I make a small effort to. And then I give up.
I think these periods of distance from God happen to all of us. One month you can be so strong in your faith, and another you just feel absent in prayer. It is so easy to get caught up in Earthly matters that you lose focus on setting your eyes to what is above.
But perhaps these seasons of distance have a greater purpose.
Every trial we experience is for a reason. And even though I’m not sure how or when my relationship with God will return to what it once was, I will continue to make an effort to radiate God’s love to others.
Because I know that one day, I too will receive a feast in heaven with my father.
“For He satisfies him who is thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9