The prodigal son is a perfect example of both our own attitudes toward God and his towards us. This story, I believe, mirrors the garden of Eden and then goes on to mirror the love story that is the rest of the Bible. We have at the start an people who are well taken care of by Their father. They are provided for, they are safe and they have no need to step outside this provision and yet just as Adam and Eve did in the garden, in the face of having a perfect situation chose their own will instead.
In both cases, it seems they wanted to strike out on their own and see just how well they could do. It almost seems in both cases as though they thought that they might be able to succeed or even surpass their current situation. It’s an arrogance, its a carelessness and it is, in both these stories, a mark of just how ignorant they were about the world around them which they assumed would be easily subdued.
They struck out into the world which crushed them in short order. It wasn’t much of a struggle they were pretty much immediately shut down. It wasn’t what they’d imagined. But their failure changed their perception of their father. When they were in their father’s house’s respectively, they would have been confident to ask of their father whatever they needed but once they chose themselves and felt the bite of that mistake they both hid. They didn’t seek restoration they wallowed in shame.
Shame is one of the devils most effective weapons. What makes it most effective is that it causes us to destroy ourselves. When we are ashamed we cut ourselves off from the provision, we don’t ask for help we don’t seek shelter we do all the work for the enemy and we eliminate ourselves as an obstacle.
When we are ashamed we start to believe that other people even God feels as disgusted with us as we do with ourselves. What makes us feel so disgusted is that we know we are in a wrong place. Shame makes us run further rather than closer to restoration. This shame is why the son went and became a servant rather than going home and being restored to his father and his home. It’s why we sin and instead of repenting and seeking forgiveness we run and we enslave ourselves to our sin. We conceal it cause were ashamed, we acknowledge it less and less. Ignoring the pain of the sin, ignoring the separation the sin causes until we find ourselves in a place where we almost can’t remember what a right relationship even feels like.
Restoration can only happen when something has been broken. Restoration is a word that means to repair. To bring something back to its original state or even to a state greater than its original state. But again remember that as great as the restoration can be that it has to come on the other side of some sort of damage.
Our restoration to a right relationship with God is necessary because it is our relationship with God that is damaged when we sin. We have all fallen short and sinned. Shame, however, as the vast majority of Satans tricks is just that, a trick. While shame has us absolutely sure in our minds that we have crossed the line for the last time. There is a truth that cuts through that lie.
the glorious reality that we don’t always see. Sometimes we can’t understand and that inability to understand makes it almost impossible for us to accept. We sin and that sin damages our relationship with God and the shame of that damage makes us run away from restoring that relationship and while we are going through all that, hating ourselves, being angry, disgusted, depressed and defeated… God is there with arms wide open, he doesn’t bat an eye he doesn’t pause, he doesn’t make us wait he is ready for us to come back from the moment we walk away, be that 20 minutes or 20 years he is there at the ready to takes back in. everything we never expected. Forgiveness, compassion, a father who doesn’t hold our failure against us who is not as interested as we are but more interested than we are to restore a relationship with, us to restore us from a damaged state to new, to better than new.
When our bodies are damaged they seek to restore themselves by design. When we have damaged relationships we long for them to be reconciled it is in our DNA to seek repair when something is broken. After we have fixed something when we have restored somethings what it should be. when our body is healed from an illness or a wound, when a relationship is healed from discourse to love and friendship, we celebrate. We celebrate because there is joy in restoration. Just as the father of the prodigal son celebrated because it was never about the money or the property or the failure or the shame or the distance it was always about a father who loved his son and missed him when he was away. Hoping for the best for him but all the while missing him like a piece of himself was gone along with him. Wanting him back not to correct him or scold him but because he loves him so much and when he is finally home there is nothing inside that father but joy. So much joy that he can’t help himself but to celebrate. That joy where you cant tells if your laughing or crying. It’s like you’re giggling uncontrollably with tears running down you’re cheeks.
This is how our Father feels about us. We can sometimes remove God from a place where we can imagine him having feelings but I assure you he does and as crazy an idea as it may seem he receives us when we run back to him to restore a right relationship with tears of joy just as this father received his son when he returned home. And he celebrates and all heaven with him. Why do we need to be restored is a question that is simple to answer, for a broken thing to be what it was meant to be it needs to be fixed.it may be easier to stay broken for a time. Maybe you need some time broken to gain perspective but in the end, we have to be restored, we have to be fixed.
As I said at the beginning of this, the two stories are similar, I also said the Bible was a loved story. We, just like the prodigal son struck out on our own from the garden. Just as the father of the prodigal son stayed waiting and hoping for his son to return. Ready to bring him in and love him and restore their relationship. So the whole Bible is the story of how our father waits for us to come home. The greatest love story of all. He waits for us, missing us, loving us, crying when we’re hurt, happy when were joyful just waiting for us to show up at the gate where he will take us in, restore our relationship, and celebrate that we are finally home, that is his heart’s desire. We have all been broken and we have all done some breaking of our own. The broken is not the end of the story. Not for us and no for the prodigal son. If you’re feeling broken even now as you hear this remember and be encouraged that the end of the story is that you will be fixed and then God himself will celebrate.