I Wanna Join the Navy
(Luke 15:11-13 KJV) And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
This parable has so many elements in it that I suppose all of us can identify with at least one of them.
The young man’s sin in this parable was not that of asking his father for his inheritance or even wasting it. The money was his to do with as he liked. His sin was not leaving home seeking a more adventurous life. His sin was turning his back on his strict Jewish upbringing and attempting to take on the lifestyle of a sinful world.
I also find it interesting that he felt he needed to go to a far country in order to sprout his new wings and live his dreamed-about lifestyle. Perhaps the reason behind such a move was because he did not want his family and friends to cramp the style of his new found freedom.
However, he soon found out that even though he could run away from the discipline of his family, he could never run away from God. This point was proven by a famine coming into the land which resulted in a Godly conviction coming into his heart.
The Bible says, “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my fathers have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.”
This could have never happened if the value of his strict upbringing had not already settled deep in his heart, causing him to be so willing to repent.
I suppose at one time or another every young man has dreamed of going to a foreign country or living a more adventurous life. The problem is not necessarily him seeking a more adventurous life, but the price he has to pay if it is the wrong kind of adventure.
I remember as a young man about fourteen or fifteen years old, I felt exactly like the prodigal in our text. I wanted more excitement in my life, so I decided the best way to accomplish that was to join the Navy. I left home (i.e. the family I was living with) and hitchhiked to the nearest city that had a Navy recruiting office. Upon my arrival I marched into the recruiting office and told the man, “I wanna join the Navy.” The recruiter looked at me and said, “How old are you?” I said, “I am eighteen years old.” He said, “Son, you are not even close to being eighteen years old.”
However, he was wise enough to set me down (without intimidating me) and share some very important facts about the kind of men the Navy was looking for. He convinced me that I was that kind of a man, but I needed to be just a little older.
We shook hands and I walked out the door…only to run into the man that I was trying to run away from. How this man knew I was there I never knew, but he was waiting for me just like the prodigal’s father was waiting for him. He kindly looked up at me and said, “John, are you ready to go home?” I said “Yes sir.”
Perhaps I was not a prodigal in the sense of the young man in our text, but I was in the sense of needlessly breaking the hearts of those who loved me. The prodigal son and I had two things in common...we both wanted adventure, but neither of us had considered the cost of our desired adventure.
I have come to realize what Paul meant when he said, “I die daily.” He was dying to the prodigal elements of rebellion in his life…which seem to take a lifetime.
Help us Lord to be as loving and patient with the prodigals that You have trusted us with as You are with us.