Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Return of the Prodigal Son...

I have been reading Henry Nouwen's excellent book "The Return of the Prodigal Son." Nouwen wrote this book based on his reflections of Rembrandt's painting of the same title.  I am so thankful that my friend Bane Angles recommended this book to me. It is definitely worth your time.

Luke 15 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. In Luke 15 we have recorded for us what has become known as the parable of the Prodigal Son. As I read through this story, I can easily identify with both brothers.

There are times in my life that I have been the younger brother. I have rebelled by sinning and as a result have left my Father’s house. There have been times I rejected my Father’s love and searched for a synthetic type of love to fill the void in my heart. I have chased after items in this world thinking they would make me feel satisfied. But I eventually discovered, just as the younger son did, that the love and fulfillment I was searching for was located in my Father’s house the entire time.

I have also experienced the struggle of the older brother. In fact, I usually identify with the older brother more than the younger brother. The older brother’s attitude was all wrong. This son had a very high sense of duty, but his was a duty based out of obligation, not love. Being his father’s son had very much become a burden to the older brother.

What I appreciate about this story in Luke 15 is that Jesus communicates just how much the Father loves both of His sons. The Father goes out to meet both of his sons. The Father goes out to let each son know that he is welcome and wanted at home. What an awesome Father He is!!

Since reading Nouwen’s book I have gained new insights into the story. There are so many takeaways from his book, but I wanted to share two with you here.

#1 – I want to be a reason my Heavenly Father celebrates. Perhaps it seems weird to think about God throwing a party, but according to Jesus in Luke 15, that’s what happens whenever one of His children comes home. In all three examples given, the result is the same when the lost object is found, a celebration! I WANT TO BE HOME WITH MY FATHER!! I want to know His love and forgiveness. I want to be a reason for Him to experience joy.

#2 – I want to become more like my Heavenly Father. For me this is the main takeaway from the book. I have focused on the sons so much that I miss the Father. I have reflected on my past so much, and how it reflects both sons, that I failed to realize my future goal is to be more like the Father. I am to be forgiving like my Father. I am to be compassionate like my Father. I am to be joyful like my Father. In other words, I want to grow up and be just like my Daddy!!

Ephesians 5:1 reads, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”

Take the time to read Nouwen’s book. You’ll be glad you did.

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