The prodigal son certainly thought, when he asked his father for his share of the estate and set off on his own, that things would go differently in the distant country than they did. He probably had fantasies and dreams of what it would be like to live outside of his father’s rules and provisions. But he soon came face to face with the reality that things had turned out very differently than he would have anticipated, and he was in a much more difficult and darker place than he would have ever thought. We do this same thing in our own lives oftentimes. We see our Heavenly Father’s ways as restrictive, and we feel confident that out in the “distant country”, away from our Father, we can thrive and fulfill our desires.
Many people specifically approach marriage this way, both in chasing it and navigating it. When neither a husband and wife are truly walking with the Lord or pursuing him, you've got two people both trying to pursue their individual happiness and trying to get together to go to a place that's undefined. And then, all of a sudden, you recognize that with each one there’s a lot of unreal expectations mixed with comparison of the people around you. Jesus would say that you're going to end up feeling like this younger brother in the parable; stuck, settling for what you never should settle for, lonely, and distant.
So, what needs to happen to get marriages and the pursuit of marriage back on track? Pursuit of the Father’s ways and the Father’s plans! When we stray away from these, thinking our ways are better or we’ve outgrown our Father, we get ourselves farther and farther away from what we truly want and desire in our hearts.
Discussion/Reflection Question: When have you left the Father for a “distant country” only to realize that it was not what you thought?