Voice of the Nations – A Column by Karyn Alexander

Love and Reckless living: What do they have in common? My Voice of the Nations column addresses this today.

Remember the parable of the prodigal son? He had a good home, good family, impending inheritance, and a future with his father’s business.

He apparently didn’t think it was such a great life, so he demanded that his father give him his full inheritance before his death. Just one day he demanded the money; it seems bold on the son’s part, but the father agreed. He gave him all he desired.

The young man in the story took the money and began to live a degraded life. He spent all his inherited money and lived without standards until he found himself eating with pigs.

At this juncture, the story tells of how the low and reckless living caused him to come back to his right mind. He ran back home to his father in great humility and embarrassment. He asked for forgiveness and received it. The father, in fact, came running out to meet him. The father loved his son so much he was willing to forgive all that had been done.

What did the prodigal do to become reinstated to the father? Just come home and say he was sorry? That seems unlikely. Why in the world did the son make such crazy life choices that led to his estrangement from all he knew? Why would the father forgive him?

We can guess that the son thought there was a better way to live and he was going to find it; of course, with someone else’s money. Live it up…whoopee, life’s a party! He was a prodigal.

It must have caused incredible embarrassment to the father, as I am sure it was rumored all through the town that the son had gone berserk. It caused estrangement between his siblings and even provoked anger and jealousy throughout the family.

Why would a father welcome home, with love, a son like this? The answer is contained in one word: Agape. “Agape” is a Greek word meaning unconditional love. A translation can be: “No matter the condition of the person, I love them.”

It is a different kind of love than you and I know. It is a love without boundaries, even in a situation where a son can live his life recklessly, hurting others, without regard to the father’s rules; A love that accepts a person just for the sake of love.

I had a friend who recently died. He, too, was a prodigal. He initially led an upstanding life, until one day he decided to just throw it all away and live recklessly too.

Why?

I don’t know.

Any of us can choose this at anytime, I guess that is why the prodigal story is an important one. The man in the story came from a wealthy family, one with a business, pride, and the father was an upstanding member of the community. Like the story, my friend came from such a family.

He was married, had fine children, owned his own business, and lived a good life. I think that the syndrome, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” hit him, too.

He began his descent with a slow decline in his relationship with friends and family. Then he simply ran away like the prodigal in the story. He slid into a false belief of, “There are no real life standards.”

As we well know, the universe has its standards. We will all leave this planet at one time or another; so, finding peace with our maker is important. The “Maker” establishes the standards. He is the father in our own life story, and his rules are the law of the land.

In my friend’s life, the reckless living began as he walked away from everything he knew. He walked away from his wife, responsibility, home, kids, and God. He too demanded to use the money given him in life for himself and his pleasures only.

It seemed as though a bit of insanity ran through him as he sought to find a better, more “fun” life somewhere else. He spent all his inheritance on frivolous living. Party on! Just like the young man in the story above, he lived low, thinking it was high, degrading himself, and then out of despair took his own life. Unlike the prodigal, he couldn’t humble himself to his family, so ended “the party,” alone.

What kind of person does this? A prodigal, of course.

You are probably wondering, did my friend, the modern day prodigal, meet the Father? Did the father run to him, too?
I would suppose and hope so. God does judge our actions, and allows the natural consequences of a low life, which could mean self-ruin and despair.  But, in the end, He knows our hearts and rules from there.

My friend left a note saying he was sorry to those he hurt, and he asked for forgiveness, but apparently could not say it in person. He confessed it all to God.

Just like the prodigal in the story, the repentance of the offense was given. Forgiveness and Mercy applied.

It seemed a shame for both men. They each wasted their lives, searching for something they had all along.

The prodigal in the story came back home, realizing that he had a much better life to begin with than what he wasted his money on. In the end, my friend felt the same way, too.

I believe that two things were missing from both men’s lives; perspective and gratefulness. If they had looked around with gratefulness, thanking God for His unconditional love, they could have seen their world in a different way. In doing so, they could have saved themselves and their families a lot of heartache. Instead of running away, they could have been thankful for what they were given. They could have realized before their unnecessary escapades that, “There is no place like home.”

Love and reckless living.

Well, to answer the original question, “What do they have in common?”  Love…God loves us and wants us to live a life of sanity and decency, making moral choices. He wants us to be humble, careful in our decisions and live within his law.

He loves us so much that He will allow consequences for our reckless living, but Loves us enough to bring  us home or at least meet us as we arrive in our regret.

Are you a prodigal? If so, be wise-be grateful- Come home!

Karyn Alexander

Executive Director, Winfield House (Winfieldhouse.org)

KarynBAlexander@aol.com

 Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, giving hope to God’s people.

Voice of the Nations: Rev.5:9 “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe, people, language and nation.”

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