What a Dad!!!

James C. Guy
    In Luke 15, we read the story of a son who decided to leave home.  He wasn’t just leaving because he was 18 and going away to college.  He was leaving because he had decided to go into the world and “live it up” or perhaps to “find himself.”  His father agrees to give him the  inheritance that would be given to him, and he takes it and wastes it on “riotous” or “prodical” living.  The word used here is somewhat hard to define, but it has the idea of a lascivious or excess lifestyle.  In modern terms, we may say, “he wasted his money partying.”  The clear illustration is that he used the money in sinful ways and had departed from the good ways of his father.  But, what is interesting is how the father, who is representative of God, dealt with the son.    There are couple of things we may want to notice about the situation.
    First, the father allowed the son to go his way and do his own thing.  That does not imply that we parents should do the same with our children, allowing them to run free.  But, when our children get older, we excert less control over them.  This story shows that our behavior is our choice, and consequently, our sin is our fault.  It was the son's free-will choice.  The father only allowed him the freedom to make it.
    Second, we see that what the son thought to be the better life resulted in his demise.  Sin works like that.  Sin appears to be the better road, but those following that path are never satisfied.  They always want more, and look for more and more ways to satisfy their desires.  The son wanted to “find himself” but was never able to do so because he was looking in the wrong place.  God, like this father, often allows us to go our way and hit rock bottom so we can realize the foolish decisions we have made.
    Third, and most important, is that the father was there waiting and watching for the son to come home.  God allows us to make our way to the pig pens, but stands ready to clean us up when we come back home.  As Jesus said just prior to telling this parable: “....there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).  Not only did he allow the son back, but he had a celebration and prepared the fatted calf and put the son in a place of honor.  In doing so, he was not honoring or condoning his sin, but was celebrating his decision to return.  It was all because of the love of the father, just as God loves us more than we can even imagine.
    All fathers should learn a lesson from this story and from God.  We do our best to raise our children in the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), but they may still chose the ‘prodical’ life.  We can not force them to do otherwise, but we can always stand ready to take them back, love them, and celebrate their return.  It breaks our heart to see them live the consequences of some of the choices they make, but we must also remember that God, our Father, has had to watch us turn from Him from time to time as well (Romans 3:23).  He allows us to live those consequences, and if we are not too stubborn, we learn from them.  We come to appreciate even more the sacrifice that God has made for us, and the love He bestows upon us.  He is our Father; the greatest example of a Father anyone can know.

Copyright © 2002-James C. Guy – All rights reserved.
*Permission granted to reprint for church or ministry use in free material (i.e. church bulletins, classes, sermons, etc.)


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