When someone says the word ‘home” to you, what kind of thoughts, images, sounds, people or memories flood your mind?
Feeling at home doesn’t always have to be a particular place, city or space. It could be in the company of people, a special meal or even an experience.
In light of this holiday season, many people have already made plans (hopefully you have booked your travel by now!) to visit “home” to spend time with loved ones.
You may even be fortunate enough where you don’t have to travel, but instead, others are coming home to spend time with you.
There are those, too, who may not necessarily have a place where they can call home or may not feel at home right now, for a myriad of reasons that will take too long to address in this post.
In the midst of waiting, sometimes, what (or Who) we once knew as home becomes less important, gets replaced or falls to the wayside. We no longer have a desire for what was once comfortable and protected.
We may even begin redefining what home is for ourselves because we have grown impatient in the wait, anxious to get to what feels like home. Sometimes, we step outside of that once safe place to chase after what we think may seem good for us.
We assume God somehow missed the mark and doesn’t have a clue as to what we need right now because if He did, surely He would have given it to us by now.
This phrase, “at home” stood out to me as I read the very familiar story about the prodigal son last week.
At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger. ~Luke 15:17, NLT
This was the statement the younger son made after he had “come to his senses” (v.17). He had come to the conclusion that what he thought he wanted or perhaps convinced himself he needed was not found in his choice of wild living or a refusal to wait for what was already due him upon his father’s death.
If you’re not familiar with the story, let me sum it up for you while adding some points along the way :).
This was the last of a series of 3 parables Jesus shared with an audience of notorious sinners as well as the religious people of the day. He was driving home a point about God’s desire to associate with all kinds of people who have been mislabeled or judged by the world, deeming them just as important and loved by Him.
The story is found in Luke 15:11-32 of a father who had two sons. The younger son asked for his inheritance from his father before his father passed away. He had a desire to leave the comfort of home (v. 13), away from his father’s protection and covering, to seek what he wanted and assumed was a better life. Surprisingly, the father obliged him and gave the son his share.
Eventually, we hope, we will discover that some of the choices we made may not have been His will or what He truly wanted for us. He has a way of showing us that we were not mature enough to have what we wanted or have been waiting for as we first assumed.
If you are waiting, trust that God has certain principles and guidelines in place for a reason. He may very well be trying to develop, heal or remove something in you so you are better able to handle what He truly desires to give you.
The son left and wasted all his money “in wild living” (v. 13) and then right before his money ran out, a great famine came over the land and he began to starve (v. 14).
The Lord didn’t adjust the son’s conditions, i.e. He didn’t allow him to really feel the heat or full brunt of his poor choices, until right before his money was all gone. Sometimes, God allows the heat to get turned up in our own lives just a little bit, based on the choices we have made. He may let us have our fun for a little while. Somehow, we may even convince ourselves that things aren’t as bad as they seem and everything will eventually be ok.
Up until this point, we can assume that the son had not been working, but living lavishly off of his inheritance. He realized that he was going to starve if he didn’t find a job so he convinced a local farmer to hire him (v. 15). At that point, the conditions had become so severe that what he was feeding the pigs “suddenly looked good to him” (v. 16).
Yet outside of home, no one was giving him anything for free. He no longer had that luxury. The circumstances surrounding his current state had become such that it finally brought him to a sobering realization: he didn’t have to live the way that he was living. Here he was living like one of his father’s hired servants and yet he wasn’t receiving the same as them, but instead was dying of hunger (v. 17).
So he returned home to his father. ~Luke 15:20 NLT
The son returned home and expected to be “demoted” in a sense. He recognized and repented for the fact that he had sinned greatly not only against his father but heaven (v. 18). He had resolved in his mind that if he could return home as just a servant, this would be perfectly ok with him.
Yet the father who represents God in this parable, didn’t consider or see him as a servant. When he saw him a long way off, he was filled with love and compassion, ran to him and welcomed his son home (v. 20).
When we come to our senses, we, too, may realize we may have gone after something we wanted or had been waiting for, before God had appointed the time for us to receive it. One usually doesn’t receive his or her inheritance until after someone passes away.
Yet, in the midst of our poor choices and bad decisions, some that may take years to recover from (like the one I made 10 years ago), we can still come home.
At home, God is waiting for you to return to Him, and when He sees you rounding that corner, a long way off…He, too, will run to you and embrace you with open arms.
One last lesson I want to share was regarding the older brother. He had remained at home, by his father’s side, seemingly doing everything right (v. 29). When his younger brother returned home, he was anything but happy. He thought their father was going to respond differently to him, based on the younger brother’s sins.
In his anger, he couldn’t seem to understand why the father was responding to the brother not as his sins deserved, but rather his position as a son first. He also missed the fact that he, too, was sitting under and had the same privileges as a son and an heir, privileges he hadn’t even appreciated or thought to enjoy while at home.
Perhaps you resonate more with the older son because you have remained at home, under your Father’s protection and covering, staying by Him and being obedient, while waiting.
And while you’re at it, you might as well have a party!
Scripture references: The Holy Bible (NLT)
Photo credit: canva.com, louis amal-Unsplash.com, @Cristian_Newman-Unsplash.com
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