Present Tense Prodigals


“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

Luke 15:20-21, NLT

The Parable of the Prodigal Son has typically been taught as a ‘once upon a time’ event in the life of one wayward youth. We understand it to be such. The prodigal returns to his Father, case closed. It is a remarkable story that resonates to every broken believer.

But what if I told you that this parable is present tense. That we are continuously wandering, spending our inheritance and living off the wealth of our Father. We feel bad about this, we repent and return, only to embark on another foray into sin of our own choosing. It happens all the time.

My point is this. We seem to be always the prodigal. We never seem to outgrow this. We are constantly coming to our senses, and returning home. We seem to never get the point that our personal sin as eternal consequences. We live like there is no tomorrow, except we have to sober up and realize we have wandered far from our home.

The story of the prodigal is written to us who have repeatedly (that means very often) find themselves a good distance from where we should be. We find ourselves feeding the pigs again. We abhor our choices, and wonder again if our Father will take us back just one more time. Reason says ‘No!,’ but faith says ‘Yes!’

God’s love for us is greater than all our evil wanderings. It extends to the ups and downs of our vacillating discipleship. He sees it all and fully accepts us as His returning son. We will never tire out His constant love. We can feel ashamed of our recent behavior, but that changes nothing. We belong to Him, even if we feel wretched.

There are belivers who are overwhelmed by their sense of sin. Some of this is inflated by the devil. And yet they feel estranged from the Church. They know what they’ve done, and they can find no excuse for their actions. They’ve wandered again (for the 100th time).

The Father’s love is not subject to your obedience.

Grace is not some meager thing doled out in some stingy manner. It is given outrageously to each son or daughter without limits. Rascals are included. God is not a miser.

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

Luke 15:22-24

‘One, and your done’ doesn’t apply to your heavenly Father. His love for you can’t be reduced to this level. Pick yourself up, leave the pigs, and come home again.

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