Some of us are inherently optimists while some are natural pessimists when it comes to plans, whether they are our own or someone else’s. Oftentimes though, we are far more optimistic when it comes to something that we have dreamed up and planned out ourselves. We are willing to take more chances and be more patient for things to work out when it’s something that we really want or have invested a lot of time into preparing or waiting for. The prodigal son probably felt this same way. He had dreamed of living in the distant country with his own money and outside of his Father’s home and ways for quite a while, so he wasn’t ready to give up after the first bad investment or the first wrong turn. He was determined to see this through; it was going to work, it had to work in his mind!
We can see in hindsight that the prodigal son stayed the course of his plan for far longer than he should have. We sit on the sidelines of this story and want to scream at him to get out of there and go home before he runs completely out of money and has nowhere to go. That’s where he finds himself in Luke 15:14-16, where Scripture says, “After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”
His plans away from his father have gone far different than he would have expected and now he is forced to be and work in a place that he never would have imagined. The reality of this forces him to return to his father’s home, although he is will have to swallow his pride and is unsure how he will be received. For us as well, the longer and farther you travel into the distant country, the harder it is to come back to God’s plans, his goodness, and his kindness.
Discussion/Reflection Question: When have you been too stubborn to realize that you needed to go back to your Father, even though it was clear your ways were not working?