Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Parable of the Loving Father (AKA Prodigal Son)

"My son," the father said, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours."
Luke 15:31
The son had just been complaining that the father hadn't given him enough. "You kill the fattened calf for my loser brother, but you don't even give me a goat for a party with my buddies."(my paraphrase) The father's response? "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours."

We usually hear about the father's compassion on the prodigal son in this story, but it hit me this week as I read it again that God wants to teach me something else about Him through the other son- you know, the much less frequently talked about son who stays home maintaining an average life while his brother runs off with the inheritance. I think in my previous readings of this parable, I've tuned out as soon as I get to the prodigal son part because I've never really had a prodigal son season in my life and I kind of know what happens next with regards to him.

BUT, as always with the Bible, there is more here than just the prodigal son. I mentioned to my more scholarly husband yesterday that I thought that this parable was more about the father and less about the prodigal son, and he agreed that our focus is often skewed and probably off from what Jesus intended.

With my new perspective focusing on the father instead of the prodigal, the other son becomes a key player. I can certainly relate to him as I've often had "other son" moments; in fact, I think God brought this story to my attention because I'm having plenty of those moments lately. My prayers usually end in something like, "and Lord, I know that you've always provided for us in the past but I just don't see how we're going to make it through this season. 'I do believe; help me overcome my disbelief.' Those kinds of prayers." And yet, I still have a roof, car to drive, clothes to wear, food to eat and freedom to pray and sing to my Lord whenever I please. Isn't this like saying to my Father, "I know I'm being taken care of right now, but I'm worried about next month. Can't you give me some extra right now so that I can be sure of your provision for next month? Where is my goat huh?"

God's response isn't wrath at some sort of greed that I might be displaying. He gives his blessed assurance. "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours." What a comfort this was to me this week. Everything God has is already mine- peace that passeth understanding, wisdom, assurance out the yin yang, and a joy for life that can only come from knowing Him. All of it is already mine because I am His. I don't need extra manna for this month to make sure I have some later. There will be plenty for what I need because I am His, and He will be as gracious in meeting our needs next month as He has been this month.

As if that weren't enough, the picture of the father in this story is not only one who provides for both of his very different sons, but he goes beyond provision. He lavishes what he has upon them. He doesn't give them only as much as they need for survival, but much more. This is the picture of our heavenly Father. He is ready to kill the fattened calf for the son (or daughter) who returns to him from afar, but he is just as ready to share everything he has with the one who never left.

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Simile Metaphor Collection

Elijah after running: My heart is beating like a coconut rolling down a hill.
Elijah on urination: Pee is like horses galloping out of the gate. Once they get started you just can't stop them.
Elijah: If school were a human I'd give it a wedgie.
Elijah: I am like a hot rod and I just want to be a plain old Ford
Elijah on the fruits of the spirit: I've got them all covered except self-control. Its like a tiny green tomato and the rest are all big ripe ones. Especially love. Its like the biggest tomato we saw in the garden tonight.