The Prodigal’s Father: A Reference in Character

It’s hard to watch someone waste what appears to be a perfectly good life in search of ‘something better.’ Lots of people think about doing it, but when you see someone actually go ahead and just sort of…run away and join the circus…it brings about a whole slew of emotions that they who are alive and remain must sort through.  After one has finally done away with the anger, sadness, sense of betrayal and abandonment, whether you are holding out hope that one day they’ll return or you resigned yourself to the possibility that there will be an inevitably tragic phone call, one question looms overhead…

What do you do while you’re waiting?

Anyone who has ever watched someone walk away from the life they had knows the feeling of helplessness that goes along with a question like that.

How do you move on and hold on at the same time?  What does it look like to lose a loved one…to know that they are not dead, but not in your life and in their present ‘condition’ they don’t even want to BE in your life?  It’s like losing an appendage…you can see that it’s not there anymore, but you still have the sensations that imply its existence.  And, you still have to tie your own shoes or pedal your bike, or give up biking all together and find another way to get around.

And then, there are promises at stake.  Things that you KNOW you heard God say about what is to come.  You have made every declaration and pulled on every scripture that connects you to that person and that person to God.  But the reality does not line up with the ‘truth’.  Again you find yourself asking…

What do I do while I’m waiting?

I took a good long look at the first example of, “What to Do While You’re Waiting” (that should be the title of the book he might have written).  I am refering to the father of the “Prodigal Son.”

Here’s a father who has managed to amass a considerable fortune and has two grown sons helping him run his estate.  One son decides he wants to get his inheritance while his father is still alive and (I’m presuming) while he’s young and can make the most of it.  Father willingly sets off to dividing the spoils between the sons.One would have to suppose that if dear old dad was so adept at making fortunes, he was comfortable with the decision and figured if he made a fortune once, he can make it back again. And it’s very likely that he was well aware of his son’s proclivities toward prodigal behavior.

For the record, the word prodigal, according to the Mirriam-Webster online dictionary, is characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure. It is partially defined as reckless spendthrift. The root of the word means to drive away and to squander.

Hmm…that makes you wonder where he picked up that behavior from? Marinate in that for a minute…we’ll get back to it.

So off the son goes, to spend his life on riotous living. And off the father goes, back to work. But there is one significant difference: Dad keeps the light on for his prodigal son.  Every day he does what must be done.  He lives, and laughs and works and cries and engages his other son and handles his business. And every day, he looks out, far off in the distance to see if his son is coming home.  His yearning for his son’s return changes him on an internal level, but it does not incapacitate him. It does not cause him to collapse in dispair. It compels him to stay busy and stay ready. It demands that he stay open and loving and willing to receive his son upon his return.

All of these things were evident in the description of the son’s return.  The poor misguided son “came to himself” while eating the slop he was supposed to be feeding the pigs. At the time when so many of us give up and wait on the negative phone call, the father of the prodigal son was still taking time to look out afar off in the distance to see if his son was walking upon the horizon.  Perhaps he did it out of habit (the Bible does not address how long he had been doing this).  Maybe he had given up and decided to look one more time.  But when he saw his son, not only did he rejoice, but he celebrated his beloved son’s return.

And how did the father celebrate that prodigal son’s return? Prodigiously, of course!  That is in fact where the son picked up the behavior.

You see, the final definition of the word prodigal is to be LAVISH, yielding abundantly or luxuriant.

The son learned the generous nature of spending, giving, loving sharing FROM HIS FATHER.  The PRODIGAL FATHER was reckless in his generosity to his staff and his family and his God.  How do I know that?  He was wealthy enough to divide his possessions between his sons not lose a beat!  The son knew that the staff was well cared for and ate even better than he was eating out there in a foreign land.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS…while you’re waiting on God to bring your lost loved ones back “to themselves,” and to you, we have to continue doing the good work that is before us to do.  We must stay open and loving and “Positively Prodigious,” in the hopes of one day being able share our regenerated wholeness with those that we expect to have safely returned to the fold. We cannot afford to spend every waking moment peering off into the distance.  We must work and hope and pray…and every now and then look out at the horizon with unmitigated expectation to see the promise of God fulfilled at any time.

Remember, He’s God…we’re not.  We cannot control when they will return. But we can control what we do with our lives UNTIL they return. We can also assure that there is love and shelter and protection available to them when they come home, while we trust God to provide those things for them while they are away.

Hang in there, family…the prodigals of the household of faith WILL return.  Trust God to see it come to pass and get back to work!


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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. H. J. James
    Feb 02, 2013 @ 19:13:03

    love this



  2. Kaleidoscope Perspectives
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 16:15:02

    Thank you, sir! I am very gratified to know who you are (although we have not had the pleasure of an acquaintance). Your quiet comment is high praise indeed!



  3. Miranda
    Feb 04, 2013 @ 07:47:13

    *bangs the Lighthouse choir stand rail* yeeeeeessss! My GOD!



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    Oct 23, 2014 @ 14:41:29

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  5. Trackback: Praying for Crop Failure | Kaleidoscope Perspectives

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