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Prodigal Love November 10, 2011

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Commitment, Family, Forgiveness, Friends, Love, Parenting/Children, Relationships, Religion.

In the Gospel of Luke 15:11-32, we see the story of “The Prodigal Son.” As I re-read this today, I was reminded of the Prodigal’s father, who I’ve always found fascinating.

What Kind of Love?

What kind of love did this man have, that he would go down to the end of the road, every day, and watch for the son who had scorned his love and provision? What kind of love compels someone to wait patiently, even when love isn’t reciprocated, on the outside chance that someday, they will return?

Depending on the day, the father probably started doubting himself. “What did I do?” he must have asked, or perhaps “What did I say that drove my son to leave me this way?”

Can you imagine how, with each passing day, he might have been more and more discouraged? Did he ask about his son in town, or pester his son’s friends about his whereabouts? Did he go roaming through the countryside, searching high and low? Was he endlessly chasing after his son, never truly letting him go? Perhaps the father had an even greater love than that.

What if the father loved the son so much, that he hoped for the son to find the desire of his heart, no matter what that might be? Is it possible that the father loved the son enough to say “goodbye,” knowing that the son’s pursuit of his dream might never lead him home? What if the son said, “I never want to hear from you, ever again.” Did he love his son enough to honor the desire of his son’s heart this way?

With no way to know if his son was alive or dead, the father did the only thing he knew to do: wait.

Prodigal People

It’s been my experience that most of us have “prodigal people” in our lives. Sometimes, they “go to a far country” without leaving our house. Sometimes, they spurn our affection and provision. Sometimes, they must say “goodbye” to us in some way, so they can pursue the desire of their heart.

How will you respond? Will you arrogantly and smugly give them up for dead? Will you hope for them to suffer, and come crawling back to your door? Will you sit and dwell on the many ways of saying “I told you so” or something similarly caustic, should they ever darken your door?

(By no means am I suggesting that we should martyr ourselves for those we love, and let them be abusive toward us. Those we love clearly must understand that words and actions have consequences, even in the midst of love. Those consequences, however, should not include witholding love.)

What then, from their perspective, would they expect to hear upon their return? Based on how you’ve behaved in the past, would they expect to be welcomed home, as the father welcomed his long, lost son? Or, will they expect to hear indignant, selfish words (however justified) of your pain?

Selfish or Selfless?

What if they are unsure? What if, as they approach the house (metaphorically speaking), they are too frightened to walk up to the front door and knock? Is it possible that the only way they will summon the courage to “come home” is if they see you, standing at the end of the road, waiting for them?

It’s true that if you do this, you may wait forever, and feel the emptiness of uncertainty. But then, who wants to be loved with a love that risks nothing? Who wants a love that costs nothing? Wouldn’t each of us, if we are wearing the Prodigal’s shoes, want to be loved with a love that waits patiently, forever? Wouldn’t each of us want to be loved with a love that selflessly sends us off to pursue what we desire, instead of selfishly holding onto us for themselves?

Stand. Watch. Wait.



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