In the parable of the prodigal son, I have always identified with the older brother. At first, I didn’t know why, and even a few years ago, my sister made the comment that she had always felt that I was the older sibling. I felt vindicated, when she made that remark because it confirmed what I had always felt. It wasn’t because I was always telling her what to do – no, it was quite the opposite.
I am reading a book called, Unbound by Neal Lozano, that I am reading with a friend, and at the end of each chapter, we discuss what was impressed upon us. So far, I have finished reading up to chapter three. In this chapter, Lozano speaks about the story of the Prodigal Son, and his perspective on this parable. The Spirit was able to show me things I had never considered or been open to before.
The parable aptly demonstrates the Fathers love for his children who have gone missing, and who have left His pasture to pursue their own passions. The younger son knew what he was doing in leaving to do what he desired. He wanted to exercise his independence from his father, but living a life apart from the Father, he found didn’t fill his cravings the way he had hoped, but realizes he is empty without his Father.
Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard the music and dancing, and he called one the servants asked what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has received him safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. Luke ~15:25-28 NRV
Pride doesn’t like celebrating anything that doesn’t put itself first. I was convinced that the Lord didn’t see me the way I wanted to be seen. As part of His family, I am called to rejoice in my brother and sisters victories in Christ. Instead, I was stuck in bitterness, control, fear, etc. All I could see growing up were the gifts that others had, but I refused to acknowledge the gifts He had graciously given me. The graces He was waiting for me to open up and discover but wasn’t because of my inability to receive His love. Part of this may have been that my earthly father never invited me experience life; he was content to watch from the sidelines. He refused to open his heart to receive, but in doing so, I learnt that it was good way of pushing the things aside I wanted away until I didn’t think they mattered to me anymore.
His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ Luke ~15:28-30
Rejection. Jealousy. I thought had prepared me for life, but I had only gained the ability to hide in my anger and fear. The Father called out to me, but I didn’t know how to respond to His love that he lavished on me as a child and now as an adult. Learning about the amount of control l had allowed in my life has shown me how many times I haven’t done His will because I was busy doing my own. As a result, many of my past choices came from a place of anger – venomous anger deep inside of me. All the while I believed that I was trying to be obedient, but I was probably being (without wanting to) disobedient. I didn’t understand why it always seem to rain on my parade, but I had already created an image of what I thought my heavenly father was doing to me.
And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.’ Luke~15:31
More than ever, I am discovering He is always with me. No matter the situation. Instead of pushing away his affections for me, I am trying to be genuine towards them – welcoming them into my heart. It wasn’t with open arms in the beginning, but through plenty of stumbling and fumbling, I am standing taller in my knowledge of His dynamic presence in me. Not everything we want and what He wants to give us is the same. Most of what He wants to give me is not what I would expect, or when I want it. I am truly starting to live in the life that I think and hope speaks more of Him and less of me.
It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this brother was dead and is alive; he was lost, and is found. Luke ~15:32