Tag Archives: Parable of the Prodigal Son

Return Like the Prodigal Son, Part 2

So let’s pick up where we left off. If you haven’t already, I recommend you read Part 1 of How to Return Like the Prodigal Son. We left off where the son had come to the end of himself in his “prodigal living” and realized that he’d be better off going back to his father than continuing doing life on his own. Which brings us to the next step . . .

Return in Humility

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ (Luke 15:20-21)

Remember, when the son left his father, he left with an offended heart. He had decided that he knew better than his father and decided to do things his own way. But the son realized that if he was going to come back, he would have to reconcile with the opposite attitude.

When we walk away from God thinking our way is better, we must return acknowledging that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). This turning of our hearts is called repentance. I don’t know about you, but I used to hate that word. The church has made it seem like such a dreadful thing, but really, it’s a beautiful thing. You have to remember the One you are coming before, despite what you’ve done, is looking upon you with compassion. Just like the son–before even speaking–was greeted with compassion.

Also, repentance is not something we do out of duty or habitually. Godly sorrow produces a serious turning of the heart (2 Cor. 7:8-10). You cannot repent if you are not truly sorry for what you’ve done. Repentance is not an easy ticket to wipe out the sin so you won’t have to be accountable for it later. When you repent with a sincere heart, then you are given the honorable privilege to . . .

Receive His Mercy

But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. (15:22-24)

The morning after going through some serious repentance with a church elder at home via phone, I spent some time in corporate worship. I didn’t feel like participating. Even though I knew I had turned away from all the stuff I’d done, I still felt dirty and unworthy of God. Then my favorite worship song came on, and I could feel God tugging on my heart. It was a song about how great his love is. Then I got angry.

Seriously, I was screaming at God inside my head. I didn’t realize at that moment it was because I was having difficulty receiving His mercy. Before the song ended, I was in tears. He had won me over with one phrase: “It’s not about you. It’s about me.”

I realized that wasn’t in an arrogant “Because I’m God” kind of way. It’s not about me and how unworthy about I am. It’s about him because He is jealous for me. How much he desires me completely overwhelms any wrong thing I could have done. And that’s the beauty of it, beloved. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). And that’s all that matters. So even if you feel unworthy, receive His mercy. Even at a time . . .

When Other Believers Oppose You

I won’t spend much time on this last point, but I feel I need to say it. At the end of the prodigal son story (15:28-32), the brother of the son complains about the welcome home celebration of the prodigal. , “These many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

It’s human to feel jealous when someone else gets what you feel you deserve. Jesus even made mention of this in another parable where field workers all received the same pay regardless of how long they worked (Luke 20:9-19). So do not be surprised if a few in the church are not so happy to see you return with grace and favor over your life. They are no more righteous than you, we all fall short of His glory (Rom 3:23). Remember, it is God’s word that matters. And His word says:

“It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”

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How to Return Like the Prodigal Son

Last year, a dream was placed on the heart of a girl who had a deep passion for Jesus.  She left everything she knew behind her to pursue a calling she believed in.  Things didn’t go as she imagined.  Conflict arose and she didn’t know how to cope.  Suddenly, she found herself choosing a path she had never taken.  A path opposite of everything she believed in.

That girl was me.  Though this features my story, it isn’t about me.  It’s about the prodigal son.  So follow me in Jesus’ parable in Luke 15.  Here it is, step-by-step, how to return to God just like the son in the story.

Find Offense with God

“And the younger [son] said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’…” (Lk 15:12)

This statement shows a complete disregard for any familial relationship with his parent.  Why is that?  Because somewhere in the son’s heart, he had become offended with his dad.

Even as believers, we can become convinced that God is somehow holding out on us or doing things His way doesn’t work.  In this way, we make a conscious decision to believe that we know better than God.  And that is the beginning of dangerous territory.

Last year, I moved 12 hours away from my hometown to attend a ministry program.  I had to quit my job and depend completely on financial support in order for this to work out.  After only a month in a new city and state, I found myself homeless for 3 weeks.  I felt like God had failed me and became depressed.  This opened the door for offense which would become my rebellion.

Do It Your Own Way

So after taking his father’s money, the son moves away from his family and spends it all on “prodigal living” (15:13).

It’s human nature to become offended with God.  The proper way to deal with it is to cry out to Him, “Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).  Acting on that offense is what leads us into sin.

After several other circumstances I didn’t understand, I became a ministry school dropout.  I chose to pursue my own sinful lifestyle that I previously chose to abstain from.  It was exciting at first as if I was experiencing  what I had been “missing out on” all my life.  I felt like I was getting some sort of revenge on God.

Come to the End of Yourself

After the son wasted all his money, famine came.  Uh-oh.  What was there left for him to do?  How was he going to eat?  No one helped him out, and he was stuck (15:14-16).

In the book of Jeremiah and several other places in the bible, God accuses His people of building broken cisterns that can’t keep water (Jeremiah 2:13).  Nothing we do in our own merit will keep us satisfied for long.  Occasionally, a person needs to come to the end of himself to realize that.

I came to my realization.  This way of life wasn’t making me happy, and I could no longer ignore the new void in my life.  I tried to fill it with all kinds of different things.  I even turned to meditation and other forms of spirituality to find peace.  But it was all in vain.

Recognize your Father

The son then realizes that he’s living off worse than even the servants of his father’s household (15:17)!  But he figured he probably insulted his father and no longer held his son status, so maybe his dad would let him come back as a servant.

It’s not enough to recognize that we are barren in ourselves.  We have to realize He is our fountain of living waters (Jer 2:13, Jn 4:10).  He has more than enough to keep us satisfied, so going back to Him has to be better than starving on our own.

Do you feel like you chose to walk away from God and it’s not really working out for you?  It’s never too late to go back.  I had done some pretty disgusting things and pretty much spit in God’s face.  But I came back.  Later, I’ll provide more detail about my story.  But remember how I said at the beginning it’s not about me?  It’s because it’s about you.  It’s about us.  The entire church is full of human people.  We’ve all had our moments but what separates us from those outside the church is we chose to come back.

To be continued . . .