(Luke 15:21-24 KJV) And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Because this is one of the most soul searching stories in the Bible most folks can identify with it in one way or another. Even though the two sons in this story are brothers, they are as different as Jacob and Esau or Isaac and Ishamel. It is easy to focus on the younger son because his rebellion seemed more obvious. He left home and spent his entire inheritance on things that would please his flesh.
However, there is another side of this story which involves the older son who also lived in a state of rebellion even though he never left home. In other words, the younger brother’s rebellion surfaced at the beginning of this story and the older son’s rebellion surfaced at the end of this story.
The younger son left his father’s home…but the older son left his father’s heart. After the younger son wasted all of his inheritance on wild living he came back home penniless, repenting and willing to serve his father. The older son never left home nor wasted his inheritance, but he was consumed with jealousy, unforgiveness and envy.
Because of his repentance the younger son would live a healthy fulfilled life even though he was broke. However, because of jealousy, unforgiveness and envy the older son was destined to live a physically unhealthy life even though he was rich.
“A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)
My sister-in-law owns some condominiums and over the years the sidewalks have become very uneven and dangerous. I did some research for her and found out how we could solve the problem without tearing the old sidewalks out and re-pouring new ones. I discovered a new procedure for leveling slabs and sidewalks that is a real breakthrough. The procedure is to drill an appropriate amount of small holes into the uneven slab and install valves. A high pressure hose is then attached to the valves and an extremely dense commercial foam product is pumped under the slab for the purpose of raising it to the desired level.
As I was watching a demonstration of this procedure I kept wondering what does this remind me of. I finely discovered that it reminded me of my own spiritual experience.
Back in the 1950s when I was a young man…my life was just as uneven as those sidewalks. One end of me was up and the other end was down. I am sure I caused people to stumble over my life just like the uneven sidewalk. I may have looked okay on the outside but my foundation was sinking and needed help. Just as the contractor had to drill through that hard concrete slab in order to do the needed work beneath…so the Holy Spirit had to drill through my hard calloused attitude in order to bring some balance into my own life.
I shall never look at the sidewalks at the condominium again without praising the Lord for His mercy in doing the inner work in my life.
Perhaps the sidewalks in my story are a practical way of describing the result of the two young men in our text. One yielded to the drilling and repair and the other did not.
Thank You for showing us the difference between leaving the father’s home and leaving the father’s heart. Help us not to lose hope for a rebellious child who has left our home and protection. Help us to be the example to our children as the father was in our text.