Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Luke 15:11-12
There are three main characters in Jesus’ story of the prodigal in Luke 15: the father, the younger son and the older son. Each of them represent a different perspective on common human behavior, and I suspect each of us can relate best to each of them at different times of our lives. Sometimes we are the one betrayed (like the father), sometimes we are the rebellious one (the younger son) and sometimes we are the one crying out for justice (the older son). But in every case, Jesus told the story to demonstrate one simple truth: the way back to a right relationship. And that, it seems to me, can be the most confusing path of all. I am so glad for what Jesus’ story shows us about how to return to a right relationship, once we have determined to do so.
Seasons of Rebellion. We all have some connection to the prodigal himself, because we have all made decisions which we knew (even at the time we made them) were disobedient to God. We knew His desire for us and we simply went in a different direction. It was (and is) rebellion, plain and simple. Sometimes it is a short season followed by an immediate “what was I thinking?” head-slap. But sometimes it is a prolonged season when we withhold from His Lordship some particular slice of our life which we just are not willing to submit to Him. Either way, it is rebellion. And the way back from any rebellion is, quite simply, confession. You will not find a more perfect confession in …
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Jeremiah 18:1-4
As I write this post, I am enjoying some vacation time with the younger of my two adult daughters. Just a couple of days into the vacation, I had already observed at least a half dozen things she used to like which are no longer important to her. She has changed. She is an adult now. But my mind is flooded with memories of her as a child. The truth is, we both have changed…and our relationship has changed as well. It has become an adult friendship. Oh, I will always be her Dad. But still, it is a very different relationship today than it was 20 years ago, and that is a good thing. Our relationship is in a whole new chapter, and it should look different.
Relationships are like that. Sometimes a particular season of a relationship runs its course and it is time for a whole new chapter. Parent/child relationships are like that. Moreover, sometimes a particular relationship can be so toxic, so unhealthy, it needs to be radically changed, almost like starting all over again. Some co-dependent relationships are like that. And still other relationships in our life can be so damaging to us that they just need to be scratched entirely. Like a potter with his clay, something entirely different is needed.