What to do with the Prodigal Son?

artist Max Beckmann
We all know the story of the Prodigal Son. The best part of the story is that it ends so nicely. The Son comes home, gets a big party, and even though the "good" son's nose gets bent out of shape, he comes around when the all-understanding and ever-loving dad explains his love for both boys. Yay, family life!

Now, I realize this is a parable and not a novel, so the grittiest of details are left out. We also really only get to see the story from the Prodigal's point of view. We don't hear of the heart-wrenching nights the father spends looking out the window, praying for his son's safety and wondering what he had done wrong as a dad. The servants must have spent plenty of time gossiping about their versions of "what went wrong". We get a hint of the sibling rivalry; was it always there?

My family has its own Prodigal. We pray, we weep, we counsel, we talk, we listen. Nothing seems ever to have worked for very long. He has his own way of viewing the world, and it is wholly "self"-centered. He seems bent on self-destruction at some points, at other points seemingly wanting to destroy family relationships. It's sad, and it's infuriating.

As a mother, I want my Prodigal to return to me, but what I really must hope for is that he returns to God. In his current mindset, I am afraid there is no room for God. That's the real tragedy.

For now, we watch and pray. We wait and hope. Being in the midst of a parable is not as satisfying as being at the end of one, but at least we know what we're aiming for.

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