It is an interesting predicament we find ourselves in sometimes in this life with Christ. We identify so much with the prodigal son and are so thankful for God’s grace in the face of our blatant stupidity. Then, as we continue on, we forget some of that and start looking at those walking beside us and wondering how and why God continues to heap His grace on them when they keep messing up or seem so ungrateful. This distracts us and consumes us as we put judgement on those benefiting from the very love that we also benefit from—but we’ve lost our focus and think that because we have been faithful for a short time, that somehow we deserve the blessing while others do not.
I found myself in that place this week and suddenly realized that I had moved from identifying with the prodigal son to identifying with the elder son. He is digusted and betrayed by his father’s actions when his brother returns home. Why him? He’s a failure who has taken what he could and now returns for more. And I’ve been faithful!! I’ve worked my butt off and been unappreciated—you’ve never done for me what you’re doing for him! As I was reading this story for what I’m sure is the thousandth time, the verse where the father responds to his frustrated son blared at me like an air horn. “Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.” It’s not about the stuff, son. It’s about the relationship. And you have been with me. Whatever you want is yours, but the important thing is that we have enjoyed a relationship that your brother doesn’t understand yet. It’s just a silly party—you and I have years of walking together and we know each other. I hope one day to have that kind of relationship with your brother, but for now I’m just rejoicing he’s come back to me.
I know this is what I really want. I know it as it reverberates within my spirit. The things God gives other people are just things. I get to enjoy a relationship with Him that was impacted greatly by my time in the prodigal role, but now can be deepended and strengthened by my time of just being with Him and not having the drama of running away. And that relationship isn’t something I earn with good behavior—it just simply is because I am His child. My focus must stay on Him, and not on anyone else around me. Then I am able to relax and enjoy Him as my Father.