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Life Lessons From The Prodigal Son

person walking across a plain of black rocks with an orange sky filled with clouds in the background
January 8, 2021
Caroline Burk

In the month of December, I tuned in as Christina James read a chapter of Luke each day. It went really well, and by “well,” I actually mean that the words of Luke hit me in the face like a ton of bricks.

One story that really caught my attention was the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. In case you haven’t read it or need a refresher, Jesus explains a parable of a son who asked his father for his inheritance, and then proceeded to waste that inheritance on “wild living.” After the son ran out of wealth, he eventually returned to his father who welcomed him with open arms, even after all that the son had done wrong (full passage here).

The entire story is a metaphor for God’s love for us as a father, how no matter what we do or how far we go, he is so eager to welcome us back in…

But it’s a smaller detail in this parable that absolutely PUNCHED me in the face (figuratively, of course). Before the son returns home, he tries to fix his problems himself (*shocker*). Luke 15:14-17 explains how “After he (the son) had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!'”

If you’re like me, after reading this you asked “If the son knows he had a loving, forgiving father waiting for him, why didn’t he just go home in the first place?” I mean, the guy was hanging out with pigs, for crying out loud…

Before we accuse the son of making bad choices, we must realize that we are that son.

I can only speak for myself, but I am definitely guilty of treating God the exact way the prodigal son treated his father: I stray away from God, follow my own desires, and ultimately fail. Then, instead of immediately returning to God for the forgiveness and love I so badly need, I try to fill the void and fix my problems on my own, just like the prodigal son did when he took a job feeding pigs rather than returning home.

Every time we run from God and try to fill the emptiness in us with things of this world, we settle for less. We must realize that no matter how far we have strayed, we have a Father waiting for us to turn to Him so He can fill every void and heal every wound.

Moral of the story is this: we don’t have to do it all on our own, so why even try? Let’s take a hint from the prodigal son and run to the Father.

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