There is something in each of us that wants to live the good life, that wants all of life’s rewards without putting in any of the effort. The story of the prodigal son is one of my favorites. It is the quintessential story of every person who ever set out to seek something that would satisfy them and found it to be an enormous disappointment.
It is the grass-is-greener syndrome. You think you want something you don’t have. You need it so desperately that you lose focus of what really matters. Then you search the world over only to find that what you needed was right in your own backyard all along. You look in the mirror and see the reflection of your own worst enemy.
Anytime we tell God that we have a better idea for our lives or that we want to follow our own path instead of the one he has painstakingly designed just for us, we take on the role of a prodigal son or daughter.
Let’s follow the Bible’s account of this foolish boy and see if you can’t see yourself in some ways.
The prodigal son decided he was too good to follow his father’s rules. He had bigger and better ideas for his own life and wanted to leave home to the “good life.”
The word “prodigal” means “recklessly extravagant,” and this is the type of lifestyle he was seeking. Things didn’t go quite as he planned, and he found himself wallowing in the mud with pigs. Think of the shame he brought upon himself. Broke, he returned to his father’s house asking to be accepted as a servant.
But the story in Luke 15 tells us that his father saw him coming from far down the road and ran to greet him. He gave him the finest robe, and accepted him back home as a son. The far country will break your heart, crush your dreams and send you home in shame. What the Father has planned for you is far greater than anything you have planned for yourself. The Bible says his thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. But it is our responsibility to heed his word and follow his commands. We must seek him first and separate ourselves from sin if we want to saturate our lives with the peace of God.
If you have heard the story of the prodigal son before, consider a modern-day application. Many spouses have left home looking for what appears to be something better or more attractive somewhere down the road. They have believed the lie that Satan has planted in their minds. No one wants to follow rules any more or report to a higher authority. “If it feels good, do it” is the motto for America today. We must wake up and return to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is only when we turn from our sinful ways and seek God that he promises to heal our land and welcome us home to the divine plan that he has been orchestrating for us all along.
There are other lies we foolishly believe. The world will tell you the Bible is a book of lies, children’s stories that are of no value today. Jesus is Lord of all or not at all. Don’t let someone else take your joy from you. Don’t allow society to swindle you into doing things that are politically correct. If God’s word ways it’s wrong, don’t do it! Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the light. Follow him and you will never go wrong.
Forget about what your neighbors are saying. Remember how Noah’s neighbors made fun of him while he was building the ark? Noah certainly had the last laugh there. Dare to make your life the best it can be with the help of Almighty God. There is no life of never-ending pleasure with no responsibility. God’s laws and his will must be followed in order to fulfill your dreams without destroying your life.
With him, all things are possible. But nothing in your life will work until you do. Since time began Satan has been the source of great lies, always telling people there is something better waiting for them that God doesn’t want them to have.
What lies have you believed that have caused destruction in your life and robbed you of God’s best that he had planned for you? Dare to live the life that God designed for you, not one of your own making. Pig pens are for pigs.
The Rev. Cherrie Andres is chaplain of Joshua’s Haven City Mission.