As I was reading through the familiar parables in Luke 15, I was struck at the very end of the story of the prodigal son, as if it was my first time reading it, ever. The son had just been whining to his father about his brother getting special treatment. His brother had come running back to Pop after squandering all of his inheritance, and instead of being reprimanded, he was treated like royalty. It makes sense; in the world, that's a really common response. (Whining, I mean.)
The father responds with such grace, though, when he says, "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Have you ever been a prodigal son or daughter? I mean to God, not to your parents. (There is a huge difference.) I was complimented recently for never having been a prodigal daughter. And while I wasn't that in the worldly sense of the word, I guess -- I didn't run away, squander my inheritance, and then come running back for help from good ol' Mom and Dad -- while I wasn't a prodigal daughter to my family, I most definitely was a prodigal daughter to God.
No, I didn't run from my mom and dad; I didn't abuse their love for me and then come running back to them when I learned I couldn't go it alone. So, right! I wasn't a prodigal daughter to my parents. Congrats to me, and congrats to them.
This parable is thought of so often in such a literal, worldly sense, because in reality, it is something people do often in the world, with their own parents and loved ones. People use people. But while that's true, let's not forget that it is a parable. God is the Father in this story. And God is the Father whom I ran from.
I was raised to be a Christian, but I wasn't one. Maybe you hear that a lot, but mine's not the story about the child who was raised as a Christian but didn't understand Christianity until they were an adult, no. My story is this: my parents raised me to be one thing, but I was another thing.
I was a good kid, overall. In school and otherwise. I went to church with my parents every Sunday, and youth group even, when I was in Middle School. It wasn't that I didn't understand what I heard though, I just didn't care; and I would even go so far as to say that I didn't believe most of what I heard. I was there for the social aspect, and to please my parents. I was not a Christian. Christianity was all about rules -- "shalt nots" and "God frowns on thats". I had no interest in having additional rules in my life. In High School it was more evident by my words and actions that I was lost, but I guess I hid it well, or no one thought anything of my behavior. And then after graduation, through my stint in college and through my early twenties, yeah. I was long, long gone. (The rest of that story is ⟶here⟵.)
Enough about that.
That was me, running from God. That was me not needing God; not needing His love, grace, or mercy.
Through a series of fortunate events (including some great reading material and an amazing pastor), my now-husband and I were reborn in 2006. (And I will give credit to my parents here, of course, just so there's no confusion: when I did become a Christian, as an adult, it was easier to look back on my childhood and remember some things I'd been told, and finally believe them.)
When I came running to God, my Father, begging Him to accept me for the sinner I finally knew I was, He said, "At last! Of course!" and all of the angels rejoiced, and God maybe even threw a party for me, just like the father in Luke 15.
I depend on the Holy Spirit every day.
I'm still a sinner. (We all are.) But I know who my Father is, now; I know His love and mercy, now. I know His grace, now. And now that I know how much I need Him, and how much I need Jesus; now that I know how much I depend on the Holy Spirit every day, there is absolutely no turning back for me.
TELL ME: Have you been, or are you now, a prodigal son or daughter? What kept you from God for so long, and what's keeping you from running to Him now? ⤵︎