How The Prodigal Son Should Have Ended

I’ve always loved the parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15.

prodigal-sonFor most of my Christian walk, I’ve completely identified with the younger brother.  Drawn to what the world had to offer, in defiance of the Father’s will, defeated by the world, humbled and fearful of the Father’s wrath, hanging my head as I vied for a servant’s position in the household, then overcome by His unexpected grace and mercy, and ultimately fully aware of and troubled by the older brother’s lack of compassion and understanding.

But over the past few years, God has led me through some intense healing and deliverance.  The theme of this recent season has been learning what it means to be a true son of God.  I’ve learned a lot about my identity in the Kingdom and that has changed everything.  It’s changed how I relate to God.  For the first time ever, I began experiencing Him as a father.  And I found out that He is a really really good father!  It’s changed how I view the Kingdom of Heaven.  For the first time ever, I don’t see it as some far off land that I may get to be a part of one day.  Instead, I realize that it is at hand.  I am already a part of it and I am an Ambassador of Heaven living in a foreign land.  I represent the culture of Heaven here on earth and it’s my privilege to spread that culture.  It’s changed how I feel about myself.  For the first time ever, I feel like ALL of the promises in the Word are for me.  All that He has really is mine!

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And for the first time ever, I realize that in this season of my life, I actually now more closely resemble the older brother in the parable.  I know my place in the family now and I’m busy serving my God as a true son.  And, I have very little desire for the things of the world when compared with the things of God. 

So now, I have a decision to make.  Will I behave just like the older brother in the parable, or will I rewrite this story?

Option One: The Original Story

I’m serving my Father in His house, tending to my own inheritance all the while there are prodigal sons and daughters living out beyond the reach of the family.  My Father watches at the window waiting for them to return, desperate to get to them before anyone else in the household does.  Who knows what they might do to them?  The disgrace they’ve brought the family is reason enough to rough them up and send them packing. 

But, that’s not my Father’s heart.  He weeps for them.  He watches for them.  He longs for them.  He’s come to me and to others several times entreating us to go look for them and bring them home.

But who has time for that?

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The Prodigal Son Driven Out

Give it up Father!  Just forget about them if they don’t want to be a part of this family.  Look around at how well things are going here!  Everyone’s happy.  Everyone’s needs are met.  We’re working together to build and expand your household.  We’re getting stronger.  We’re getting fatter.  We’re getting richer.  Our enemies come to try to rob us and we easily send them packing.  We’ve got it made in the shade.  Who needs all those dirty, stinky, needy prodigals coming in here and screwing up what we’ve worked so hard to build?     

One of them came back the other day.  And Father actually threw him a party.  He gave him fine clothes and gifts!  Can you imagine?  Father is acting just like these prodigals: hasty, irrational, extravagant, and indulgent.  It was so wasteful.  All that I’ve worked so hard for was just given to this scoundrel.  I had to say something.  Father made a big point of telling me that this prodigal wasn’t just His son, but that he was my brother.  Well, Father can go on thinking that if He wants, but that wretch is no brother of mine.  Let him prove himself first.  Maybe then I’ll accept him.painting1

Uggh!  Now that I’m the older brother, I just hate this part of the story.  I want to rewrite it.  I believe the whole reason Jesus told this story is so that we would rewrite it!

Option Two: An Alternate Ending (How it Should Have Ended…And Still Can)

So many of my brothers and sisters have left and are living out lives they were never designed to live.  My Father’s heart breaks for them.  He paces before the window every day, watching and praying for their safe return.  I can’t bear seeing my Father like this.  I can’t bear the thought of what my brothers and sisters might be going through.  They are living without the protection and provision I enjoy as a son of this household.  They are living without the Father’s love and blessing and guidance. 

There’s so much to do here, but I can’t get them off my mind.  My Father loves them as much as He loves me.  And I love my Father.  So when my Father’s heart breaks, so does mine.

So, I went to my Father one day and I said, “Father, send me out to find these lost sons and daughters of yours.  Give me authority to tell them how you really feel about them.  Give me provision to journey to the ends of the earth to find them!  Give me authority to bring them home to you.” 

tumblr_li7zmaRFW71qhmhdfo1_500With joy, He gave me everything I asked for and sent me out to find them.  In ways, it was tough to leave the safety of the household and venture out to where I might be mocked or abused or even killed.  But I knew that I had the support of my entire family behind me.  So I mustered up all the courage I had and decided to care more about my lost brothers and sisters than I did for myself and my own needs and safety. 

And when I found one of my brothers face-down in the muck of a pig pen, it made it all worth it.  He was dirty and stinky and half starved to death.  I ran to him and got right down in the pig poop with him.  I got filthy dirty, but I didn’t care.  I took no thought of what people might think when they saw me covered in muck.  All I was thinking about was rescuing my brother. 

My brother was beyond surprised to see me.  He couldn’t believe that I had actually left home for the sole purpose of finding him.  He thought the family had written him off.  He thought Father hated him.  He thought he was too dirty to be accepted. 

mudkids-1I brushed the mud off of his face.  “There you are,” I said.  I told him he was my brother and I loved him no matter what he had done.  I told him all about how the Father wept for him and longed for him.  I told him, “This isn’t who you are.  This pig pen doesn’t define you.  You’re a member of a wealthy and royal family.  Come home, brother.  Father and I love you!” 

I helped him to his feet and together we headed home.  All the while, he hung his head and kept rehearsing his apology.  He kept asking me if I was sure he would be welcome.  I reassured him over and over again that no one would turn him away. 

 When we drew near to the house, he grew increasingly nervous and considered turning back several times.  “Don’t,” I pleaded.  “Just wait until you see!  Everyone will be overjoyed to see you!  I guarantee you Father will be head over heels for you!” 

Finally, we reached the edge of the property and here came Father, running out of the house and down the hill toward him!  Father’s arms were wide open.  There was a huge smile on His face and tears in His eyes.  My brother just dropped to his knees and hung his head. murillo

But just then, something miraculous happened.  Every member of the family who had heard what was happening immediately left their work in the fields and joined the Father in running down the hill to greet our brother who had returned.  It was amazing to see my family with one heart and one purpose following in the footsteps of our great Father. 

The party started right then and there as the Father and everyone after Him hugged and fawned over my brother.  We all helped him into his new clothes and we reminded him over and over again the he was a true son of this family.  We fed him and helped him heal.  We held his hand and loved him.  We never treated him any differently. 


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And he grew strong and confident.  And now, whenever he and I hear of another lost son or daughter, we go out together after him or her.  And we as a family celebrate over and over again, every time our brothers and sisters come home.  We’re constantly throwing parties.  And I love it!  I wouldn’t want to be a part of any other family.

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The Parable of the Slave

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This is my story.

This is the story of the Bride of Christ.

This is your story.

There once was a certain girl who grew up in the land.  She had been a slave for as long as she could remember. Everyone she knew was a slave.  And the life of a slave was all she knew.

There arose in the land a great king who was righteous.  His heart broke for the people who were enslaved in the land and His anger was kindled against their taskmasters. He took note of the slave girl and He loved her from the moment He saw her.  In fact, He loved her so much that He immediately went to her and rescued her from slavery.  He brought her into His castle and ordered His servants to exchange her dirty, tattered garments for the finest garments of the kingdom, put shoes on her feet, and rings on her fingers.  A party was thrown that very night in the castle in her honor.  There was more delicious food than the girl had ever seen in her entire life. She was overwhelmed by the generosity of the King toward her.  As the party rolled on into the night, and the she had eaten more food than she could hold and laughed and smiled more than her cheeks could bear, the King stood up and announced His plan to adopt her as His very own daughter.  And so He did.

And all was well for a time.  The girl loved her new life. And the King loved her with a father’s love.  He took great delight in seeing her thrive in the kingdom and feel secure and full of joy.   But eventually, the girl ran into one of the taskmasters who had formerly ruled over her. “Who do you think you are?” he scoffed at her.  “You were born a slave.  You’ll always be a slave.  Those fancy clothes don’t fool me.  I know who you really are.  You don’t belong in the King’s kingdom.”

And the girl remembered her former life and fell into despair, thinking, “He’s right.  Who am I to be favored by this king?  Surely I am not truly loved by him.  Who am I to walk around as if I am His true daughter when I am not even worthy to be His servant.  There has been a mistake.”  It was at this time that she withdrew from the presence of the King.  She took off the beautiful clothes He had given her and put back on her filthy rags.  She kept to herself and her shame drove her deeper into despair.

The King took note of her absence and sought her out.  When He found her alone, He asked, “Why have you withdrawn from me?  Where are your fine garments?  You are my beloved daughter.  It is my desire for you to grow up before my eyes because I delight in you.  I delight in beholding you.  I delight in knowing you.  I delight in blessing you.”

The girl wept at the King’s words, but could not bring herself to believe them.  “Your words cannot be true,” she retorted. “How could a king love a slave as His own daughter?  Those clothes don’t belong to me.  They don’t change who I am.  All they have done is cover up the filth from my years as a slave.  I don’t belong here.  I don’t belong to you.  I should go back to the slave pits.”

And the King wept to hear her heart.  “But all I have, I have given to you.  Anything and everything in my kingdom is yours.”  But the girl would not accept any of it.  She felt too unworthy.

About that time, the slavemaster came to the gates of the castle to demand her life be turned over to him.  And he brought with him a great host of oppressors.  “Return the slave girl to me, for she is mine!” He yelled up at the castle. “She was born a slave and she will die a slave.  She has no business in your kingdom, let alone your family.  I will fight for her tooth and nail!  Surrender her now!”

At this, the King’s passion was kindled.  He called to himself His only begotten Son, the heir of the kingdom, and the captain of His army.  “Son, the time has come to fight for the life of my daughter.  The slavemaster has demanded she be given up, but I will not stand for it.  She is my own and even if I must give up my whole kingdom for her, so be it.  Even if you, my only flesh and blood son, must die for her, so be it.  All the power and authority of my kingdom I give to you to leave this castle, descend to the slave pits, and defeat the slavemaster and his host.”

The Son of the King took no convincing for He had already fallen head over heels in love with the girl.  The passion in His heart toward her matched the passion in His father’s heart for her.  “Father, I am more than willing to fight for your daughter, my beloved.  I will conquer this foe even if it means my own death so that she might stay here in this kingdom and remain with us forever, knowing how much we love her.”

And so, the King’s Son led His army into war.  Two mighty hosts crashed into one another in the slave pits all on behalf of the life of one slave girl.  And for a time, it seemed as though the army of oppressors had the upper hand.  The Son of the King and the slavemaster went head to head in combat.  The Son of the King fought gallantly, but the slavemaster eventually dealt a mighty blow to the Son of the King, knocking Him off His horse into the dust.  He lay there on the ground for what seemed like three day.  But then, just when it seemed that the slavemaster had won, the Son of the King rose up off the ground, drew back His mighty sword and slew the slavemaster.

Now, the King had taken the girl up to the highest tower of the castle so that she could watch the battle that was being fought on her behalf.  “Do you see my Son down in the slave pit fighting for you?” He asked.  “He has fallen in love with you.  He is willing to lay down His life so that you might live.  This is the greatest love of all.”  And the slave girl wept to see this mighty prince in battle all because He loved her.  “Daughter,” the King said.  “I have always loved you.  You did not choose me.  I chose you to be mine.  Now it is my desire and privilege to see your joy be full.  Do you love my son who loves you and would give His life for you?”

At this, the girl looked fully into the King’s eyes and said with all sincerity, “Yes.  I love Him.  I love Him with all that is within me.”

The King beamed with joy to hear her choose His son.  “Then it is settled.  Upon my son’s return, I will give you in marriage to Him.  His name shall be your name.  His inheritance shall be your inheritance.  And you will KNOW that you are my true daughter, once and for all.  And none shall be able to deny it.”

And so it was that when the Son returned, He sat down at the right hand of His father.  The former slave girl exchanged her tattered garments once again, this time for a beautiful wedding gown, and the King’s Son received her as a bride unto himself.  And the Son loved her.  And the Father loved her.  And she loved the Son and she loved the Father.  And she came to know her place in the kingdom, her place in the family.  She walked in the authority of the King, not ruling over others, but serving and loving others as the Son had loved and served her.  She made a way for others to be exalted just as the Son had made a way for her.  She spent time before the eyes of her Father, the King, serving in His courts, sitting at the foot of His throne, listening to His wise words, and reclining her head in His lap.  And she knew once and for all, that she was His true daughter.  And the Father and the Son took great delight in her.

And it came to pass, that one day the King took her up to the top of the highest tower again.  “Look down into the slave pit, Daughter, and tell me what you see.”

“I see slaves at work, trying so hard to please their taskmasters so that they might find one small moment of relief, joy, anything.  Father, my heart is moved with compassion for them.  I used to be just like that.  But because of your love for me and the love of your son, I am free.  Father, your love is so great.  Would you not take them in and adopt them as you have done for me?”

The King beamed with fatherly pride to see that His daughter had developed a heart just like His own.  “That is exactly what I desire.  Long have they been oppressed and long have I waited for you to feel what I feel and think like I think.  You finally know your true identity, your place in this family.”

“It is only because of your unconditional love that you showed me, Father.  It’s only because you and your son were the only ones to love me with no agenda, no strings attached, while I was yet a slave, unworthy of such love.”

“Daughter, it is the thrill of my heart for you to know my love, but the people down in that pit, they don’t know it.  But I love them the same way that I love you.  I want to adopt them in to this family.”

“Don’t they know that your son has defeated the slavemaster?”

“No, Daughter, they don’t know.  And they won’t know unless they are told.”

“Then send me, Father.  Let me go to them and tell them.  Who better to go than the one who knows what it was like to be a slave and now is truly free because of your love?  Let me bear the love you have for them.”

This was exactly the will of the King.  So He sent her out as an ambassador for His Kingdom. She was to represent her family, her bridegroom, her father, her King.  She declared the King’s unconditional love everywhere she went and expressed it through her actions.  Many accepted this message of freedom through His love.

And thousands of slaves became true sons and daughters of the Most High King all because one slave girl dared to believe what the King said about her.