Luke 15 is full of stories of items that were lost and then found. Jesus starts out the chapter with the story of the lost sheep. In a land where sheep were part of the every day economy, it was an easy idea to grasp.
The story of the lost coin was also something relatable. Who wouldn’t search for money that was lost?
But then Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son.
He had been building up to this story with the other two, guiding the listeners to see that the lost item had value. So he begins the story, There was a man who had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
The younger son immediately took his half of the inheritance and left for another country. In today’s setting, it would be another city, like New York or L.A. The younger son barely arrived before he started making poor decisions. In short time he was out of money. Then came a famine. What could he do? He needed to eat. So he took a job as a hired hand, feeding the pigs his boss owned.
A pastor once pointed out something obvious to Jesus’ listeners, the younger son had truly hit the bottom. He was a Jewish son feeding unclean pigs (Luke 15:15).
A friend of mine is currently acting like the younger son. Poor choices, seeking happiness in places that will only bring sorrow. I often wonder how far my friend will have to fall before coming home to the Heavenly Father.
As I prayed for this friend yesterday, I was reminded of a poem by Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven. The imagery is powerful and the idea of God pursuing us no matter where we go echoes Psalm 139:1-12. We cannot hide from God, He loves us too much to let us remain lost.
Immediately after the Hound of Heaven, I remembered The Collar by George Herbert. A powerful poem describing similar behavior to the Prodigal Son, trying to throw off the “collar” or bonds of his home life for adventure.
It was an entire message within moments for my heart, as I recalled the beginning of John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 14; Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you / As yet but knock; breath, shine, and seek to mend; I heard the words as a lamenting prayer and the cry of the speaker to be saved from the bonds that tied him.
There are times when Prodigals will be gone for days, other times they will be gone for years. It is in the long term that prayers may seem fruitless, but there is a fortifying of your faith as you pray for the prodigal in your life.
My prayer for my friend is simple and difficult at the same time.
Father God, bring him home. Bring him home and restore and redeem him. Heal the brokenness within his heart. Heal the pain and take away the shame. Show him that he is loved, remind him that he is Your child and nothing he does will cause him to be disowned. Oh Jesus, bring him home.
Best Beloved, I don’t know where you are today. You may be pacing the yard watching for your child to come up the road, like the father in Luke 15.
You may be the prodigal son’s big brother, wondering what the fuss is about, after all you’ve been faithful to the family.
Or you may be the prodigal, believing the lie that all you have done can never be forgiven.
Believe me, Dear One, there is nothing you have done that will separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39, Hebrews 13:5). There is no sin that is so bad, so wrong, that will make God throw up His hands in disgust and tell you to go away.
Whichever person you are, I pray you will find the grace you do not deserve and yet is freely offered to you today. God loves you. He truly does, Best Beloved.
He truly does love you.