Okay, I admit it: I’ve been known to tune out when someone starts preaching on the prodigal son … again. I may or may not sometimes internally sigh, thinking ‘again with the story of the prodigal?!’ I mean, really, it gets preached on, written about and referenced all. the. time. Am I right?
Recently, though, God showed me that no matter how many times I read or hear this story, it is still my story. I may not have turned to wild partying (this time) or squandered the family savings (this time). It doesn’t have to be blatantly evil! Indeed, our enemy specializes in subtlety and distractions, and he knows all too well which ones will snare each of us most effectively! They even be “good” things!
It’s as if I see a pretty flower just off the path and I want to get a closer look. Flowers are from God, made in part for our enjoyment, right? Maybe the flower – the distraction or lure – is a person, or a job, or a ministry. Just a quick look, a small whiff, no harm done … until, once again, I find I’ve wandered off the path and gotten stuck in the briars, or lost my way altogether, and am crying out in pain and fear, cold and alone, holding a wilted flower.
Mercifully, God hears my cries. Yet again He shines a light in my darkness, helps me find my way back to His path, where He waits for me patiently, arms outstretched, love in His eyes. Love that I think is perhaps mixed with a bit of sadness over my own self-induced pain, fear, and frustration. And I am, as always, overjoyed and relieved to be in His arms, safe and secure again. To be rescued. And then, in His arms, warm and comforted, I vow never to wander again (until the next time).
And so I think I’ll be more respectful and humble the next time I hear or read the story of the prodigal … my story.