The Heart of the Father, Part 5
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Luke 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Alright, so far we've looked at the younger son's decision to ask the Father for his share of the inheritance. Once the Father gave him his share, the son left home. Now let's see what happens next.
The younger son was obviously full of confidence. His fear was that he would miss out on life "out there". He wasn't satisfied in the Father's house. So he felt the need to leave.
Now here's the little detail the son didn't consider. In the Father's house, he can enjoy endless resources. The Father is obviously very rich, and He is willing to share everything He has with His children (as the Father will state in verse 31). However, once the son leaves the house, his resources are now finite. He could take some of the Father's possession with him. But not enough. It won't last for long.
The other thing that the son didn't consider: The world will never feed him. The world is a place of consumers. Outside the Father's house, there's no life. Outside the Father's house, there are very limited resources. Those resources that we can find out there will never satisfy, they will never be enough. So out there, it's all about "what can you give me?" In the Father's house, there is no need to take things from one another. Because the Father has endless resources to share. But out there in the world, there's only a bunch of hungry, thirsty, desperate and lonely people. And all they are about is: "Who can give me what I need?"
So just imagine: Here's a young man, probably very rich, very confident. He is full of life that is still in him from the father's house. He's full of energy, full of excitement, full of plans for his new life. He has everything everybody else is looking for. And of course he's generous. The father shared everything with him, that's all he knew his whole life. So there's only one lifestyle he knows: Share all your resources with everybody who asks.
Can you imagine how such a situation will evolve over time? This young man will soon get sucked dry. Because everybody wants what he has. But his resources now are finite. Since he left the Father's house, he cannot be "recharged" by the Father any longer. So for a while it all goes well, he's generous, he has a lot of friends, he feels free, he feels important, he realizes that he has something to give to others. His dream is coming true.
However, we are reaching a turning point in this young man's life:
Luke 15:13 And not many days later the younger son gathered everything together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
After living his dream for some time, his resources start coming to an end. And he realizes that he cannot sustain himself and his lifestyle any longer. He realizes that he is now unplugged from his Father's resources. So ... problem!
But he still has a solution. He could get a job. He's still confident about himself. How difficult could it be? I mean the Father has a lot of wealth. How difficult could it be to earn money and earn a household like the Father? Sure it's doable.
So he tries. But due to a famine, there are no good jobs available. The only thing he can find is the most horrible, most humiliating job of the time: Feeding pigs. Pigs are considered unclean animals for Jews, as the Old Testament commands. Jesus in the New Testament sends deamons into pigs. So yes, nobody in the Jewish religious system wanted to have anything to do with pigs. But this young man is so deperate that he is willing to take a job to feed pigs.
So now he's turned the corner, now he's making money, now his journey is turning for the better, right? Well, not so fast.
Luke 15:16 And he would gladly have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
This man who was so confident in his own abilities and strenght a while ago is now willing to eat the food of the most unclean animals of society. But people even deny this request. And the young man is now reaching his lowest point. He is now sitting in a pigs pen, feeds pigs, has nothing to eat, and is mistreated by everybody around him.
So the son seems hopeless. Now let's look back into the house. What do you think the Father is doing at this point? Well, as we will see later, he is waiting for the son to come home. He is longing for the son, He does everything He can do bring Him home. But there's one thing He doesn't do: He doesn't go after Him. He doesn't look for the son. He doesn't try to write him letters, urging him to come home. He doesn't send messengers, He doesn't try to talk with his boss whether he could pay the master of the pigs farm to send the son home. He simply leaves him where he is.
Fascinating to me that the Father not only lets the son go in the first place. But now He also doesn't initiate his return. Our Heavenly Father is all about voluntary love. He does everything He can to show us His love. But He will never, ever orride our will. And whoever chooses to stay in the far country, He will leave Him there. He will pray, He will look, He will long for them to return. But He will NOT bail them out.
But those who do return will be in for a surprise, as we will see in the next blog, when the younger son returns. But let's backtrack a bit: So the son reaches his lowest point. And then, FINALLY he comes to the conclusion that changes the rest of his life: This is stupid!
Luke 15:17-19 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants.
The son finally realizes how much better life in the hosue of the Father is. He realizes that even being a hired servant by the Father is WAY better than living outside the Father's house. Reminds me of this Psalm:
Psalms 84:10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
That's the kind of revelation the son has at this moment. The lowest position in the Father's house is infinitely better than the highest position outside the house. And he makes the decision to return to the Father.
Now there's only one small problem: He is full of guilt and shame. He realizes that he left the Father's house thinking that he could make things work. Now he realizes that in his pride and arrogance, he wasted the Father's possessions. Not only did he mess up his own life. But he brought shame on the Father and His house as well.
Therefore the son thinks that the Father will now probably reject him. So he has to come up with a reason for the Father to receive him back. So he says: "I have forfeited my rights as a son. However, maybe the Father is willing to make me a servant. Maybe He has a bit of mercy left for me, so that He can give me a job."
So he is willing to come back low. However, he will be in for a big surprise. A wonderful surprise. We will see in the next blog.
For today, let's just close with this question: How does this story apply to us so far? Well, there are a few questions/takeaways that we bring to God in our quiet time:
- What is our "far country"? What are some of the things we do that we know are not pleasing to God? What are the things we try to find satisfaction in that are not in line with His will? Maybe we don't live in gross obvious sin. But what about the small things that nobody sees? Internet sites or movies? Books? Music? Entertainment? Is there any aspect in my life where I am living in the far country?
- Where do we get our resources from? Am I truly relying on the Father's resources in everything I do? Am I drawing from His resources every day? Or am I looking for satisfaction, fulfillment and joy in other places? Do those places realllly fulfill Or do they leave me empty and disappointed eventually?
- Is there guilt and shame in my life that make me feel like I am no longer accepted by my Heavenly Father?
Think about it, talk with Jesus about it. And whatever comes to light, allow Him to restore you like the son when he returns. More on that in the next blog. :-)
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