Breeding swine is like any normal job to us in this clime. But to a Jew, it was the height of debasement. Anyone who had contact with a pig was considered four times more defiled than one who patronized a prostitute. That was how bad things had become for this guy infamously nicknamed the Prodigal Son. Even the despicable job he was holding down could not put food on his table. Life had become one long night of sorrow and shame.
Until he conceived of that “bright” idea to cut himself free from his father’s apron strings, life was a fairytale for the Prodigal son. Born and raised in affluence, he had everything at his beck and call. If he wanted a fat calf for a little gig with his friends, it was his for the asking. He had status; he had privilege; he had all. Now, he wanted his share of the father’s estate. And he wanted freedom to spend it on his terms. Well, things didn’t turn out the way he thought. Away from his father, he wasted all he got and wound up living worse than the servants in his father’s estate.
The climax of this beautiful story is not when the Prodigal Son picks himself from the dust and makes his way home, ready for the worst; it is when the father sees his long-lost son, shattered and battered afar off and runs towards him with open arms of love and forgiveness. If that touches you as being out of this world, it is because Jesus told this parable to illustrate how much God, our Father, loves us and is waiting to give us a second chance, no matter how far we have gone astray.
HAVE YOU MISSED IT?
Going astray is something we can all identify with, or haven’t you gone astray before? As you are reading this, you may be very far from God, lost in your perverse idea of what life should be. Maybe you have wasted the blessings of life, investing in vanities, and now you are broke. Or you might have squandered the love and trust of your spouse, forcing yourselves to live in squabbles and bitterness. It could be anything, but you know it when you have missed it big time.
Your first reaction might be to live in denial. You carry on with your life with the illusion that everything is okay. You may be so good at masking the pain and frustration you feel that many still pass you off as a paragon of success. The other reaction might be to admit that your life is off the cliff but it’s not your fault. You blame everybody else but fail to see where you have gone wrong. Or, you could take all the blame and put yourself in a hole for good, believing that nothing can erase the mess of your past. Happily, the Prodigal Son opened a new vista for his life when he made up his mind to return home, no matter the cost.
If you have missed it in any way, it is time to return home. The problem is not God forgiving you; it is you giving yourself another chance. Your Father has never ceased loving you. Today, He waits with open arms for you to come home. He will forgive your sins and cleanse you from every unrighteousness. He will clothe you again with royalty and restore you to prosperity. He will wipe away your shame and put on you a ring of status and honour. He is still your Father and He is the God of second chance.
The real loser in that parable was the elder brother of the Prodigal Son. He could not understand why the father could forgive a son who rebelled against his authority and wasted his wealth in a strange land. He was so enraged that he refused to celebrate the return of his only brother. It says one thing to us: men find it difficult to forgive even what God has forgiven.
True, you have not done what your brother has done for which you hold him in contempt. But you have done other things for which you can be punished. Recognizing the log in your eyes will put the speck in your brother’s eyes in perspective. So, forgive your spouse, friend or brother. Give everyone another chance. Because that is what God is doing.
Article written by Dr. Dennis Inyang (firstname.lastname@example.org)