My Father Remains a Refuge
Written by: Maddie Wilson
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But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…
"My son," the father said, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."
- Luke 15:11 & 31-32
Have you ever found yourself re-watching a movie for the millionth time, and yet you can still see or hear something new? Someone in the background catches your eye, or you understand a joke you didn’t before? Maybe I just don’t have the best attention span for movies, but this happens to me all the time; and while it’s fun to see what new details can be picked up every time I re-watch Harry Potter, it’s even more amazing to me the new details I can pick up each time I read a parable from the Bible. You see, parables have always been described to me as living word—what I mean by that is even though the stories were written years and years ago in a drastically different time and place, the parables will always be able to apply to life on Earth.
One of my favorite parables is that of the Prodigal Son. Like the others, the story of the Prodigal Son is living word that can be applied to life no matter the circumstance. Even better than that, I think most people have been able to identify with each different character from the Prodigal Son at some point. Let me explain:
The Father. Having a considerable amount of money, the father plans to provide his two sons with an inheritance. One day, one of the sons approaches him, asking for his share of the allowance… right then and there. So the father gives the inheritance to his one son, and the son leaves. Despite the hurt and betrayal, the father waits patiently on his son’s return. Upon his son’s return, the father throws an elaborate celebration. Even in the face of his son’s mistake, the father still loved him.
The brother. The Prodigal Son leaves with his inheritance, betraying his family. The brother remains during the Prodigal Son’s absence, and he is sure to show love and loyalty to his father. Although the brother did the right thing, the father never threw a celebration for him. Upon the Prodigal Son’s return the brother is angered. Not once did his father throw him a celebration for doing the right thing, yet upon the Prodigal son’s return he is forgiven and celebrated? The brother in this story was bitter, angry, and jealous.
The son. In this parable, the Prodigal Son decides he wants his inheritance… and he wants it now. His loving father gives it to him, and he leaves home; blowing all of his inheritance and ending up on the streets all alone. Eventually, after finding himself at rock bottom, and hoping maybe even to be hired as a servant, he returns to his father’s house.
I’m not sure about you, but I can relate to all three characters. I relate to the forgiveness of the father to someone who probably didn’t deserve it right away, the jealousy and neglect of the brother, and the mistakes and shame of the Prodigal Son. Mostly, I relate to the Prodigal Son in how God my Father remains a refuge, even when I turn my back on Him. Countless times have I had no patience, allowing myself to put my desires and timeline over my Father’s… Yet, even though I have wronged Him, He welcomes me back with open arms each time.
1. Can you relate to the characters in the story? Which one(s)?
2. When was a time you felt like the Prodigal Son, but returned to your Father’s open arms?
I am so grateful to have a loving, forgiving Father like You. You greet me with open arms and give me grace. Thank You for being a good, loving Father. Be with me in moments where I am like the Prodigal Son and turn away from You, but also in moments when I am the brother and act with jealousy and bitterness. Remind me that You are my true refuge and it is to You that I should always turn. Amen.
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