“The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.”
The estate, representing the father’s wealth, was only due to be passed on to his sons upon his death. The younger son was not willing to wait – effectively saying that the delay was wasting his indulgence time. It was a rejection of the father, the family and the family home in favour of worldly pleasures. The father consented, gave his son the share he was to receive and watched him stride away – knowing what the outcome would probably be.
Sure enough, Jesus tells us, the son ‘squandered his wealth in wild living.’ Eventually, after having been reduced in desperation to feeding pigs in an effort to stay alive, he ‘came to his senses’ and decided to return home to ask his father to hire him as one of his servants. In rags and tatters he must have dragged himself along that long and lonely road, in an agony of shame and in doubt as to his reception, rehearsing the short speech that was all he had to offer,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” (Luke 15:18-19)
Each one of us, as we look back over our lives with prayerful honesty, will be able to identify areas where we have wasted opportunities, squandered resources and dismissed relationships. There will have been times when we too have been caught up in the pursuit of some fantasy or obsession. We will also realise situations where we have caused others pain and where we have suffered ourselves. And then there will be the understanding that, like the son in the story, we have put the Lord aside whilst we have focussed on our own agendas and satisfactions. Having wasted our opportunities and impoverished ourselves, often leaving a path of pain behind us, we may have nothing to offer God except our shame and our spiritual and emotional begging bowl.
There is so much in the short prayer of the young man.
- ‘Father’ – a recognition and acceptance of the relationship once rejected.
- ‘I have sinned’ – I have got it so very wrong
- ‘I am no longer worthy’ – I have no claim on You at all
- ‘Make me like one of your hired men’ – look after me and I will do everything you ask of me
Look to see where you may have gone away from God. Go home again.
Father please forgive me where I have put myself and my desires before You and Your will for me. Help me to trust You and Your plan, purpose and provision for me. Amen.