I'm thankful the Bible is so real. If you haven't read this story in awhile, please take time and look at it in Luke 15. It depicts a vulnerable family drama. Disturbing, sad, happy - a huge mix of emotions boiled down to a few paragraphs.
Can you imagine the tension leading up to the younger son asking for his share of the estate? How would you respond if you were the father? I don't think I would have been very gracious. Honestly, I probably would have shouted and ordered him to leave. In modern terms, I picture the young guy peeling off in his sports car, throwing gravel as he sped off on his new adventure.
I imagine the older son standing off to the side, watching his father hand over the money, shaking his head at the weakness he was witnessing in his father. I imagine a look of disgust and disdain clouding his features as he turns away and heads back to the barn to do his chores.
When you read this parable, what do you notice or think about? I have usually focused on which son I relate to. I have always been amazed that the father was so measured and loving and kind - that he never gave up hope. Until recently, however, one thing I had never considered is the father's attitude toward himself.
The father represents God. The perfect father. A father who had two sons who went against everything he had hoped for, at least for a time. They treated him with terrible disrespect. Their actions could have been incredibly embarrassing.
Both sons broke customs of the time and treated their father with great dishonor. The younger son in a sense wished his father dead with his request for his share of the inheritance. The older son showed his true heart when he expressed resentment about working so hard and not being given opportunities to party with his friends.
The father showed such incredible humility in approaching each of his sons, welcoming the youngest back with open arms and pleading with the oldest to repent and join in the celebrations.
Their choices made them miserable and caused them pain, suffering, and anguish (one physically and both spiritually). They both said mean and hurtful things. Yet the father didn't pull away in anger. He never stopped hoping for the return of his younger son. He appealed to the older son, trying to help him gain a deeper understanding.
I want to be like that.
But have you thought about what he didn't do?
Unlike me, the father never once berated himself for being a poor father!
He didn't question himself.
He didn't pull his friends together and list off all the mistakes he had made.
There was no "should of, would of, could of" party going on.
He also didn't moan or complain about the way he was being treated.
There is no indication from the story that he looked at himself in the slightest. His focus was totally on meeting the needs of his sons and wanting to stay in a relationship with them, even if it meant watching one of them walk away for a time.