The Reading: Luke 15: 11-24
“He would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate” (v.16) RSV
The story of the Prodigal Son is one of the best known in the Bible. Sadly, it fits our theme over these weeks of ‘Lost Years’. This younger son decided that he was going to live life to the full. He cajoled his future inheritance out of his father and set off to make his fortune, or rather, to lose it!
After an unspecified time of riotous living he ran out of money. Some of the best years of his life had been squandered in self-indulgence, instead of steady work and application. In the end he “would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate”. He was reduced to looking after the animals that his race felt were ‘unclean’. His life had become dirty and immoral.
We too may feel we wasted our years at school or university. We avoided the dull and arduous route and pursued quick money or a life of pleasure. Maybe the last thing in the world we wanted to be was to be like our “elder brother”. In the story that elder brother was a man of duty but not of joy; he was unforgiving and ungenerous. So it is understandable that the younger one wanted to be free and be real, but it was nevertheless a selfish and dead-end route.
God knows, and he wants us to fulfil our potential in the years that remain to us. Our past need not be a ball and chain that drags us back for the rest of our life. Unlock it; let it go. The past is past. With God, let us turn to the future and start working and striving with all the strength and the talents that he gives us.
There is also a spiritual application from this story. We may have wasted the best part of our life in neglect of God and of our soul’s requirements. Our spiritual well is dry. But let us take heart, even now if we turn to the Lord in repentance, we will find he is merciful. Indeed he will “run to embrace” us (v.20). He will restore our relationship with him and fill us to overflowing with love, joy and peace.
Jesus, I am sorry for the past. Grant me the chance to live my future for you and for others. Amen.
1 What is God’s message to those who go their own way?
2 What did God do for Israel in slavery in Egypt?