The Bible will always be a timeless book. Why? Because every time we read it, we find something “new”. We read and study many different accounts in scripture, but at different points in our life different things catch our eyes or, in my case, my ears. Last week Justin mentioned Luke 15:11-32 in his sermon, the parable of the Lost Son. It’s a parable we all know and one that some might even claim to love because it has a happy ending. I love happy endings, don’t you?
Sadly, we all know someone who was once a faithful follower of God, but for some reason has turned their back to God. It might be our brother, sister, mom, dad, son, daughter, or friend. It makes your heartache, doesn’t it? I imagine the father in the parable felt the same way we do. It’s not easy to just watch someone walk away from the safety of home. Did the father in the parable beg and plead with the younger son to stay? Our account in scripture doesn’t say, but we do know that he didn’t leave the same day he received the money (v.13). The son had time to ponder his actions before he left and the father had time to talk to him. We can beg and plead until we are blue in the face with someone who is pondering leaving the church. We can try our hardest to help them see that what they are about to do is going to hurt them. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t because we have the ability to make our own choices. The father didn’t chase after him when he decided to leave, but the father kept a close eye out for him to return (verse 20).
This parable has so many lessons in it that we can learn from, but the one that caught my ear on Sunday was verse 17 – “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” Did you catch that? The young man came to himself. It was ultimately his decision to come back home. He was out of money and was eating with the pigs. Sometimes, as much as it hurts to watch, it takes something very tragic to help open eyes to the truth. We can try to open their eyes for them, but until they come to themselves, it’s not going to happen.
So how do we turn this sad story into a happy one? We watch, pray, keep being a good example, keep the door open and maybe one day you will see them coming back. When you do, do as the father in the parable did, run to them, kiss them, have compassion on them, and then celebrate.
By Kristina Odom
Kristina and her husband, Justin, serve with the church of Christ in Fairfield, IL where her husband is the preacher. Kristina is a stay-at-home mother to their three kids.