There is a story in the Bible about 3 men. One is the father and the other two are his sons. The father is wealthy and raised his two sons the best he knew how. One day the younger son comes to his father and says, “I want what is in your will for me BEFORE you die.” He wanted to get away from his family as quickly as possible and not look back. The father, though hurt by this request, gave the young son what he had asked for.
The young son wasted no time losing everything he had been given. Home started to look better and better, but how to go back when he had “burned his bridges”? He practices what he will say to his father when he sees him again.
Meanwhile the older brother had stayed home, worked hard alongside his father. (Probably reminding his father how wonderful he was that he wasn’t like his younger brother, that had left them high and dry.) He would catch his father looking off in the distance at different times.
As the younger brother heads back home practicing his speech to his father, he looks up and sees his father racing toward him. He braces for the words, “I told you so” or “you are not welcome to come home.” They never came.
His father throws his arms around him and welcomes him home! Throws a party in his honor, puts fine clothes and jewelry on him. The younger son is humbled and feeling so undeserving of such love.
The older brother who is working hard, hears all the commotion and races back to the house. Only to find out his younger brother has returned home. His father is putting the best clothes in the house on his brother and giving him some expensive jewelry. He is even having a huge feast prepared.
Outraged and with his arms crossed tightly across his chest he refuses to celebrate with his father. He once more reminds his father of his loyalty and hard work while this other son has taken all his inheritance and lost it. Why the celebration? Where is MY celebration party?
The father patiently explains that all he loves him and has noticed what wonderful work he has always done. He tells him that all he has belongs to the older son.
Then he tells him the reason for the celebration is that “your brother was dead but is now alive, he was lost but is now found.”
I feel like in my life I have played all three parts.
I was like the younger son and couldn’t wait to be on my own. Out from under all the rules and regulations. Do my life like I want!
I also have been like the older brother and acted like I deserved someone to throw me a party for doing all the work and staying the course. No forgiveness for the wrongs done to me by others.
I also feel like the father as I watch and wait to celebrate ones that were “lost and now found”.
The best thing is that God is that Father.
He was there with open arms when I finally came to my senses and returned to him. I was “lost but now I am found”.
Don’t be like the older brother refusing to forgive, staying lost, outside the celebration.
Which part are you playing in this story?