But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Luke 15:14
Independence is a highly valued quality. We teach it to our children, and we demand it for ourselves. There is even a statue called the Independent Man on top of the state capitol of Rhode Island. It stands as a tribute to self-sufficiency and freedom.
In the story of the prodigal son, we see a different aspect of independence in someone who takes charge of his own life and shuns his father’s care and protection. The account reveals both the downward spiral of sin and the restoring grace of God.
Sin means acting independently of God’s will. It begins with a desire that is outside His plan. Next comes a decision to act on the desire. When we act, we find ourselves, like the prodigal, in a distant country, which is anywhere outside the will of God.
To remain there requires deception. We deceive ourselves by thinking that we know better than God, and ignoring any consequences. Defeat follows. For a time, all will seem fine, but, like the reckless son in the story, we will find our way leads to defeat. Finally, we will arrive at despair resulting from famine of spirit, emotions, or relationships. That leads into desperation, where our choices are few, and all distasteful.
The prodigal son ended up there. But desperation is not the end of the prodigal’s story, nor is it the end of ours when we sin. Jesus gave this account of an earthly father’s forgiving love because He desired to point us to the restoring grace of our heavenly Father. God waits with open arms for us, His wandering children.
Father, thank You for the assurance of Your love—that You wait with open arms to welcome Your wandering children home.