Lessons from a Far Country
Velma J. Sanders
What was he thinking when he pictured life without his father; days and nights devoid of restraints, rules and regulations; total freedom and fat pockets? These thoughts and musings of the heart had nurtured within and floated in his mind for quite some time. It did not happen suddenly, in an instant and overnight that the young man that is now known as the prodigal son became so.
When we read this most familiar parable, recorded in Luke 15:11-32, it does not take much imagination to picture what is going on here between a father and his two sons. There is first the father who has great love for his boys; both of which are prodigal but in two different and distinct ways. The younger son is lost in self-will and rebellion; riotous living and worldly pleasures; wanting nothing to do with his father. The older son lost in self-righteousness, bitterness; refusing to come into the house.
Although this scripture is commonly called The Parable of the Prodigal Son, when it is looked at closely, it is actually the father and his heart on display for all to see. Father is the main character and his unfailing love.
The parable opens with the younger son demanding that his father give to him his inheritance. As we know, usually the inheritance would not have been divided until the death of the father. However, this younger son so deceived and steeped in hatred seeks to distance himself from father before then. He does not wait for death. He wants the inheritance now. The father complied with his request and does not prevent his departure.
What the son had imagined often in his mind is now about to come to pass. He cashes in his allotment and heads off, as far as he can, away from dad and all restraints into that far country. He has gone to live life to the fullest. So he thinks, now that he has what he wanted. He got freedom to do whatever he wanted to do without having to give an account to anyone. First it seemed that he could afford it, but eventually he finds himself in poverty; having lost everything. Alone, lonely, humiliated, helpless and hungry.
What was he thinking? Who was he listening to? He had been deceived by the world’s promises and sins’ pleasures. He believed a lie. He believed that he was missing something; that there was something better; that he was smarter than father. Sin can be fun – but it passes – its fleeting. The most fulfilling life that anyone can live is found in the promise of Jesus who said, “The thief comes but for to steal, kill and destroy. I am come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)