Scripture Text: Luke 15:11-21 Title: Prepare to Run Away?
Question of the Day: What can a parent do when a teenager gets restless and rebellious?
Jesus’ stories have some of the most interesting insights. For example: if you have a son or daughter who is in their teens—or younger–and is getting rebellious or restless, what can you do to ensure that when they get to the end of their rope in a faraway place, that then they will return to you for help when they are ready to get their lives straightened out? Let’s listen to the familiar story of the prodigal son and see what it was that brought him home.
“Then Jesus concluded with this story that He was familiar with: ‘There was a certain man who had two sons. The younger of the two said to his father one day, ‘Dad, give me my inheritance, now!’ So the father divided his inheritance and gave the younger son his share. A few days later the younger son gathered all of this possessions and moved a long ways away, and began to live a carefree life, carousing with his buddies—just living it up. And when he had spent all of his money, God sent a great famine after him, and soon he was destitute and living on the streets. So he hired himself out to a citizen of that area, and was given the job of slopping the hogs and herding them as they rummaged through the fields looking for something to eat. As he watched the hogs eat, he longed to be full eating anything—even the husks that the hogs were eating, but no one gave him anything to eat.
“Then he got up and went home to meet his dad. But to his amazement his dad saw him coming a long way down the road, had great compassion on his son, and ran to meet him, wrapping his arms around him and welcomed him home with an embrace. Then the son began his prepared speech, ‘Dad, I have sinned greatly against God and done wrong before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son.’ But the dad said to his nearby servants, ‘Run and get the best outfit available for this boy and get him properly dressed, and put the family ring on his finger, and shoes on his feet; then get that fat calf that we have been preparing for this occasion and butcher it and prepare a feast—let’s celebrate! Here my son was as good as dead, but now I find out that he is still alive! He was long gone from home, but now he is found. And they all rejoiced and enjoyed a big feast.’”
The father had done many things right years ago or his son would never have returned. The boy’s memory told him that his dad always had plenty to eat; that he would need to humble himself and his dad would take him back; that he had been demanding and wanting his own willful way; that he had been raised to know that sin was ultimately against God; that he was now worthy only to be a servant; he was keenly aware that he had sinned against his dad; and he had a hunch that his dad would accept him home and at least give him a job and feed him.
Don’t these things instruct a parent on how to prepare a rebellious son or daughter hopefully for their eventual return home? We must ask ourselves what we can do as a parent to raise a child properly so that if they ever did run away from home with a haughty demanding attitude, that when they got to the end of the rebellious road of life, they could come home and at least have enough to eat, and at best they could be restored to full status as the “son”. The father’s reaction to the son’s return had been prepared long ago by what the he had done and by the relationship that he had developed with his son. Isn’t that what our Heavenly Father has done for all of us?
Prayer: Lord, prepare our hearts as parents to make sure that the door is always open for a son or daughter to return home should they ever go off into rebellion. Help us to put You at the center of our homes and the thoughts of our children, and treat them respectfully in such a way that, even though we hate their rebellion and haughtiness, they are always welcome home! Father, thank You for being that Parent to us, the One who wait so long for us to return to You in humility and seeking forgiveness. Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.