Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Rev. 3:20
For reasons I no longer remember, the summer after my 18th birthday I decided I wanted to drive my brother’s motorcycle. I had been on the back of one plenty of times, but I had never driven one myself. My mom requested that I not ride until I had more training and experience.
But, after a quick course in how to shift and brake, I mounted the bike and took off down the dirt path. I loved the feeling of freedom as the wind rushed past me. Around and around the track I went. Things were perfect until I tried to stop. Due to user error, I was thrown from the bike. I had plenty of time over the next few weeks while I was recovering from the resulting injuries to reflect on my foolish choices. (You can read the full story here.)
The older I get, the wiser my mom becomes.
She knew I needed more practice before I drove alone. But she also knew where she ended and I began. She provided counsel but didn’t force her will on me.
The Prodigal son
In the parable of the Prodigal son (you can read about here) the son asks his dad for his inheritance. As the second born, he would be entitled to 1/3 of his father’s property upon his dad’s death. But he wants the money now, so he goes and asks his dad, who is still alive and using the property, to give it to him.
Talk about disrespectful and rude. If my child asked me, I think I would give him a long lecture before I told him no. But, the father gives the son what he wants.
Prodigal isn’t an often used word. It means wasteful, spending money foolishly. In this instance, the young man didn’t want the money for a good reason. He wanted to leave his country and go to another land where he could live loosely without consequence. He was willfully choosing to squander all his father had worked hard for.
Knowing that the father still gives him the money. In the end, the son returns home broken and repentant begging for a job as a hired servant. The father welcomes him home with open arms as his son.
The father represents God
Like the father, God doesn’t force us to do anything. And I’m so glad he doesn’t. When I am forced, I feel resentment and frustration. Instead, when I chose to love well I feel joy and happiness.
Like the Father in the parable, God gives us good gifts, even when we are selfish. In giving us the freedom of choice, He gives what is His and allows us to misuse it. But, that doesn’t mean we should.
3 Things we can learn from the prodigal son
- Just because we can misuse the freedom God gives us doesn’t mean we should. (Rom 6:1-2)
- When we chose to live apart from God- things don’t work out so well. (1 John 2:15-17)
- When we repent we will never be treated as a hired servant – we are God’s son. (Gal 4:7)
God is a just but gracious God. He never forces His ways on us but gives us space to learn our own lessons. My real life parable taught me I can choose to do things my way. And just because those in authority don’t forcefully stop me, doesn’t mean they are a good idea. I also learned when I veer from their wisdom – things don’t always work on well. Yet, even in my stubbornness moments my mom loved me and sacrificed her time and energy to care for me.
Have you hard to learn a lesson the hard way? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Thank you, God, for being a quiet God. You do not force your will on us, yet you love us when we make foolish choices. You are so good, so gracious, so kind. I want to live surrendered to your will. I trust you. Thank you for loving me as your child. In Jesus Name. Amen.
*I had a tough time with the letter Q. Patient or long-suffering would have probably worked here, but since I needed a Q – quiet it was. Quiet is the opposite of complicated, boisterous and obtrusive. By definition quiet is still, peaceful, being at rest, refrain from speech or activity. It works, right? Can you think of a different quality of God that starts with Q? If so, leave me a comment below.