Luke 15:25-32 (CEV)
25 The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants over and asked, “What’s going on here?”
27 The servant answered, “Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf.”28 The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house.
His father came out and begged him to go in. 29 But he said to his father, “For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends. 30 This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast.”
31 His father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found.”
Lost and Found … Part 4
Have you ever lost out on something incredible? An incredible gift? An incredible experience? An incredible opportunity? It was right there in front of you, but for whatever reason you missed it?
I was sixteen years old (almost seventeen) when I went to Belgium to work on a summer mission team. Because my airfare had come from someone’s air miles, I had a few days to kill at the end of my time there, and a few options of what I could do with the time. I had some money left over, and a new friend had suggested it would be worth taking the train into The Netherlands for a day, since I was so close.
Being the kind of kid who worried incessantly about getting in trouble, I was worried that my parents would be angry with me if I went.
It was right there.
I had everything I needed, except the permission I felt I needed to take advantage of the opportunity.
So I didn’t go, and twenty-plus years later, I still feel like I missed out.
Today, as we get to the end of Luke 15, we find the older brother in a similar position. He’s at home working. He’s dealt with watching his brother take off with half the inheritance (which presumably made life a lot harder for him). He’s felt obligated to work harder, felt the burden of responsibility that comes with being the son who stayed, and presumably daily experienced the impacts of his father’s grief – because it would be very difficult not to.
And now, his younger brother waltzes back in to the house, and gets treated like he’s a visiting dignitary! It’s absurd!
I’m pretty sure he feels jilted and jealous and frustrated and hard done by.
So when his dad comes out to try to get him to stop sulking and come join the party, he explodes and demands an explanation! “What is the meaning of this?!?!? I’ve been here working this whole time and I’ve never had anything like this kind of treatment. He uses you, abuses you, walks all over you and this is how you respond? You’re ridiculous!”
I wonder how he felt when he heard his dad’s response.
It’s all been yours all along.
You didn’t need to wait for me to throw a party for you – you could have had one anytime you wanted to.
You weren’t under any of that obligation to work harder or fill in for your brother or prove something or fix something for me or any of those other burdens you’ve been carrying. That is not, was not, never will be your job!
Your job is to take such joy in my love that you have love to offer back when there is a new joy to celebrate.
We’re not actually told how the older son responded. How would you respond?Journal Questions:
- Has your faith ever felt like it was full of obligations?
- Like you were burdened with responsibilities or suffering under the weight of grief and pain?
- What would it mean to listen to the Father’s response today?“All of the riches of the Kingdom are available for you – today – right now! They always have been. They always will be. You aren’t under any obligation to work harder or fill in for someone else or prove something or fix something for me or any of those other burdens you’ve been carrying. All I’m asking of you today is that you come and celebrate that what was lost is found.”
- What would it mean to live like a deeply loved child instead of like an underpaid servant?
- How might it change your perspective?
- How might it change your intentions?
- How might it change your experiences?