By B.J. Funk
There are some decisions we should never make. Like the decision to get in God’s way, especially when it comes to our children. We are sure God did not mean to place our child in that difficult situation. We are sure we must help him or her get out of their misery.
In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15) the younger son asked for his inheritance and spent it foolishly. Eventually he had no money to buy food. Hungry enough to eat the pods that the pigs ate, he finally came to his senses. He woke up to his rebellious nature and longed to return to his father.
What if someone had told the prodigal son’s father that his boy was working in a filthy pig pen and had no food except the pods the pigs ate? What if the father stopped at nothing until he located his son and brought him back home to fill his boy’s belly with the richest meats?
What if the pods in the trough never fulfilled their assignment?
He sat down in the pig’s mud, a loud boisterous cry escaping his throat, hot tears covering his face. Why, he was the son of a rich man! Should he have to live like a poor man?
What if this story ended before God’s business ended?
The strong smell of rot moved into his nostrils. He no longer wanted the far country, but he was starving. He determined to eat a pod and dip into the slop, but he couldn’t. Instead, he got nauseous. The prodigal screamed several curse words into the night air and cursed his life.
The rebellious son, looking at his own face reflected in the slop, thought how much better life was for his dad’s hired help. The hired help can eat delicious food, and I can’t!
He was better than this! Sitting among the stench, he became angry. At himself! At his father! At the whole world! His own smell repulsed him. He remembered the warm smells of scrumptious food encircling his kitchen table. Could his father ever forgive him? He wanted to go home.
He got up grumbling that his energy was spent and that he could not get any help from anyone! But he was determined. His torn shoes seemed to talk, the loose straps mocking any effort on his part to get away.
A decision formed in his heart. It could be the most foolish decision he would ever make. Or, it could be the best. He would go home, if indeed his father would have him.
Alone, crying and stinking, he slowly found the long road back home. He rehearsed: “Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer……” He turned around – and the pig pen called his name.
However, the call of home became stronger with each step. How often did he turn around and head back to the stench of the pig slop? Two, seven, a dozen times? Each time he practiced what he would say: “Father, I have sinned. I am not worthy to be called your son. Make me your hired help.”
Daylight surrounded him with new hope. Then, the most amazing sight he had ever seen came into view. Someone saw him and was moving down the long road toward him. Wait. Not moving. But running. The Prodigal whispered to his heart his well-rehearsed line once more. “I’m not worthy to be called your son” over and over until he recognized the image was his own father running toward him.
No questions asked. No scolding. Just tears and hugs from this father who had waited so long for this moment. The late Reverend Frederick Wilson writes that when the two met, the father embraced his son – stink and all – and welcomed him home as the son began his apology. The Father interrupted with words of love. “Hush boy. You’re home!”
Got a wayward child? Let the far country do its work. Give the pods a chance to fulfil their purpose.
B.J. Funk is Good News’ long-time devotional columnist and author of It’s A Good Day for Grace, available on Amazon.