| The story of the Prodigal
Son is familiar to most of us both in the church and in the secular world.
It is the story of how a young man asked for and received his inheritance
before his father died. He then left home and moved to a large city where
he squandered his inheritance on pleasure and sin. There came a time when
a famine raged in that city and destitute and without friends or money
the young man found a job with a farmer who raised pigs. In the culture
where the young man was raised tending pigs was the most disgraceful of
occupations. He finally realized that he had made a poor choice by squandering
his inheritance. He knew that the servants who worked for his father were
better fed and wore finer clothing than he could now afford. So he swallowed
his pride and went home.
This prodigal son possessed everything anyone could ask for, a loving father, a life of privilege as the son of wealthy man and a good name. There were no shortages in his life. Everything he needed for a comfortable life was provided for him. But he wanted to do his own thing away from the watchful eye of his father and out from under his protection. His father was willing to let him go and provided him with the necessary means to do it. The father loved his son dearly, yet he knew that if he forced his son to remain at home he would become bitter and angry. The father decided it was better to let him leave and learn some of the hard lessons of life.
The son set off with great expectations. But sad to say he spent his inheritance on a life style that brought him only instant pleasure and lasting misery. Down through the centuries thousands of men and women have thrown away their inheritance on bad friends, promises of fame and fortune and all the pleasures of the flesh, which left them abandoned, betrayed, without any means of support and far from the families that loved them.
In the first chapter of Genesis we meet Adam who threw away all that his father God had provided for him for a mouthful of apple. God had placed Adam in a beautiful garden where everything he needed was at his fingertips and promised him that he would live forever. The bite from one small fruit caused Adam to lose everything. He lost his relationship with God, his home, his life and his family. Never again would he enjoy the benefits of being God's son. He had squandered his inheritance.
Then we read about Esau who lost his inheritance and birthright for a bowl of stew. He was willing to satisfy his flesh at the cost of losing what was rightfully his. He became estranged from his family and wandered over the earth feared and despised by God's people. As the children of God we have been reborn into a life of privilege. God our father has given us everything we need to live and work in his Kingdom and this world. God has given us an inheritance that is incorruptible.
God now hears and answers our prayers. He offers us healing for our bodies and renewal for our minds. We no longer need to fear death. The Bible says that eye has not seen nor heard the things that God has planned for those who love him. In Ephesians 1: 14 we read that we have received the Holy Spirit as the down payment of our inheritance. The Holy Spirit brings into our life the power for ministry and again in Ephesians Paul tells us we have been provided a suit of armor to protect us from the enemy of our souls. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus tells us not to concern ourselves about food or drink for our Heavenly Father knows what we need and we no longer need to fear or worry. The unconditional love of God is ours and the final provision of our inheritance is to spend eternity with him.
To experience all the blessings of our inheritance we must live in the presence of God. In giving us free will God has given us the choice of living with him and receiving everything he has to offer or leaving home and suffering the consequences of a fallen world. He will never force us to stay, it must be out of love for him and our willingness to be obedient.
Think of it this way. You ask your father if he will give you your share of your inheritance. You don't want to wait until he dies, you want it now. Out of love your father agrees. You take the large some of money that is yours and you leave for Las Vegas. There you spent your money on lavish living, drugs, prostitutes, gambling without any thought for tomorrow. Before you realize it the money is all gone and so are your friends and the things money can buy. Hard times fall on you and you have to find some kind of work to keep you from starving. You're too embarrassed to call home for more money so you find a job of the lowest kind. You hardly make enough to pay rent and buy food. Finally you come to your senses realizing that the men working for your father are eating better than you. Unsure of how you will be received you pack the few meager possessions you have left and hitch hike home. Your father sees you coming a long way off and runs to met you and welcomes you home with an expensive suit of clothes and a large banquet.
You are back home but not without cost. The months or even years that you have been gone have taken their toll. Your health is not good, sickness and death without hope and comfort have been part of your experience. You have aged prematurely. For a long time you have missed out on the fellowship and wisdom of your father. The relationship with your brother has been broken and will take patience and love to mend it. Time has been lost that never can be made up. Daily you ask yourself was it worth it? You grieve over what you have lost.
Dear friend the choice is yours. You can experience the things of God that are part of your inheritance or you can wander far from home and squander your inheritance. Regardless, God still loves you and is waiting for you to return to him but oh the blessings you have missed out on and the valleys you have traveled alone.
If you feel in your heart that you have wandered away from God's presence don't hesitate to turn back to him. He's waiting for you with hugs and kisses.