The Father-God Love for the Prodigal
Are you a Prodigal?
I was looking up the definition of “prodigal” and was surprised by the definition:
prodigal implies reckless or wasteful lavishness threatening to lead to early exhaustion of resources.
luxuriant suggests a rich and splendid abundance.
lush suggests rich, soft luxuriance.
profuse implies pouring forth without restraint.
lavish suggests an unstinted or unmeasured profusion.
As I looked at this definition, I thought of our American lifestyle. Have you or your children followed this pattern:
- Our children are encouraged to go to Ivy-league schools and to not worry about the debt accrued with student loans.
- After they go to college, and meet the perfect somebody, they go into further debt from the lavish wedding.
- Then of course, there is further spending as they purchase their first house.
- Then they purchase the first a mini-van
- Then extravagant equipment for their babies.
The Prodigal Cycle
The out-of-control spending, the reckless and wastefulness of resources has become confused with the American dream. Remember, how our forefathers and mothers sacrificed when they came to a land of freedom. They hoped for a better life, but their definition of a good life is much different than what the entitlement generation feels they deserve.
If you were around in the 80’s when Imelda Marcos, the widow of a Filipino dictator, was found with a legendary 3,000 pairs of shoes. The media was appalled by the extravagance when so many of her people were in great need. Yet, Americans love to shop till they drop and build mansions where only a few people live in them.
The Entitlement Culture
Let me tell you a story of a land which is becoming a culture of waste. The amount of resources that an individual home waste’s every year could feed and cloth all the pilgrims who died trying to settle this country. They gave their lives for religious freedom and we waste what has been given us.
Let me tell you a story from the Bible.
There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’
So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.
That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. (Lk 15:11-20).
I have never seen myself as a prodigal…
I fell in love with Jesus early in my life. I didn’t do drugs. I was a virgin when I married. I thought that all the prodigals were people who were “loose” or had sex outside of marriage or had corrupt morals. Yet, when I read this definition:
I realize that as an American citizen I am included in these statics:
1. Junk galore. Each American throws out about 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of trash every single day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest 2012 figures.
2. Food Wasted. According to America’s Second Harvest, over 41 billion pounds of food have been wasted this year (www.secondharvest.org).
I know that I fall into the above categories of waste. But as Americans, we also have these statistics.
3. Drug Use. America has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.
4. Teenage Pregnancy. America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world by a very wide margin.
5. Credit Card Waste: According to a Gallup survey, the average cardholder carries a credit card balance of $2,210 at the end of the month. Statistics on creditcard.com show that the average APR on cards with a balance is 12.78%. Considering that 176 million Americans have a credit card, the wasted amount on credit card interest is over $49 billion each year.
Hope for the Prodigal…
I could get really discouraged by these statistics, but the good news is that the story of the Prodigal Son is not as much about the son who was reckless and wasteful, but about the Father who loves… Look at the how the Father loves every prodigal.
When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’ (Lk 15:20-24)
A Father’s Love for His Prodigal Children
Wow! We spend so much time thinking about “the prodigal”, but really this story is about the Father! As we turn around from our own reckless living we can be sure of this! Our repentance opens the door for intimacy with Father-God to be restored. When we change our thinking and embrace a lifestyle of repentance, we draw near to God and He draws near to us. The truth of God’s never-ending story is told again and again as the father welcomes us home to Himself. Remember this:
1. God Loves Us
2. God Receives Us
3. God Restores Us
4. God Authorizes us
God Rejoices Over Us
// ]]> The Father is waiting for you and for me to come home!
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Hope to hear from you. If you want prayer for your own prodigal heart to come home, or prayer for a loved one, leave a comment and we will join you! A Father’s love never fails to welcome home His child.