“’The other brother was angry and would not go in. His father came out and begged him,’”
I actually started this particular piece seven months ago, and it was originally titled, “Score Keeping”, but even as I look at this soul verse this morning, there is so much more to it than I can put into words.
Often times when we hear the story of the prodigal son, we are reminded about the brother who left home, squandered all of his inheritance, and returned home where his father ran to meet him on the road. The story is one of hope, love, acceptance and almost unfathomable forgiveness. For the older brother, forgiveness was unfathomable.
The scripture states, “The other brother was angry and would not go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ His father said to him, ‘Look dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he has found!’” (v. 28-84)
How many times have we missed out on the party because of bitterness in our own hearts?
How many times have we opted out of relationships because in comparison, we contributed much more than the other person? I mean, why should they get anything – especially a glimpse of my joy – when they don’t deserve it?
How many times have we lost opportunities to live because we would rather plead our case, then trust The One who already knows our case – and loves us still? Even in those moments when we think we know more than Him – those moments when we cry out, “But didn’t you see what he did? How can you show him the same (or even more) affection as me?” And our Father gently replies, “Because everything I have is yours. You need only accept it.”
In those moments, when we compare ourselves to others, we are the ones who become trapped. And being trapped in the net of comparison is never what God intended for us. The more we struggle with it, the more tangled and exhausted we become. And before we know it, we’ve tired our souls and robbed ourselves of freedom. We’ve become depleted – tousled and betrayed by our own self-righteousness.
And yet, even in this condition, God comes out to meet us. He begs us, “Come. Come to the party.”
What incredible and almost unfathomable love and forgiveness our Father bestows upon us. Even when we are still so unappreciative and undeserving.
What party are you missing out on? Why? What is keeping you from going in?
Take a good hard look at your life, and ask God to reveal those answers to you. Ask Him, too, for the courage and strength to accept what it is, so you can begin releasing yourself from that which ensnares you.
When I look at my own life and the mercy and grace Jesus has granted me, I would be a fool not to embrace it! I cannot imagine opting out of the greatest celebration I have ever known. No, if I am going to be stubborn about anything it would be to stay AT the party until my Father calls me home.
Thank you so much for inviting us to this grand party called life! Please forgive us for the moments our stubborn pride prevents us from all you have to offer. Open our eyes and reveal to us those areas where bitterness harbors. Free us, Lord. Wash over us and grant us a taste of the greatest celebration we will ever know – Your unfailing and endless love.
In Your precious Son’s name,