By Pastor Glenn Pease
Did you ever run away from home? I did once, and sat out in a field, and nobody came after me. Life gets boring fast alone in a field of weeds, and I was getting hungry so I decided to go home, and that is how most people get home. How did the Prodigal son ever get back home? The father did not send a wagon to pick him up. The elder brother did not ride a horse to the farm, and offer him a lift. The neighbors did not send him a ticket for the camel caravan to bring him back. Nobody did anything to get him home. He simply said, "I will arise and go home." He got home by choosing to go home.
That is the way you get anywhere. It is by choice. He did not get home by hoping he would some day get there. He didn't wish himself home. He may have wished he was, and in fact, we know he did wish he was home, and not feeding those foul pigs. He longed for home, but his longing, wishing, and hoping did not get him home. He could have died an old man in the pigs slop, and never gotten home if all he had going for him was hoping, longing, and wishing.
There are so many things that just won't get you home, but there is one thing that will always get you home, and that is choosing to go home. He chose to get up, and he chose to start walking, and he chose to continue walking, and he chose to walk all the way home. There was no other way. He was the one who chose to leave home. Nobody booted him out, or locked the door after he left. It was his choice that took him to the far country, and when he got there, it was his choice to blow his inheritance on wine women and song. People are pretty much what they choose to be, and they do pretty much what they choose to do.
Not everything is a matter of choice, of course. Many things are beyond the control of our choices. I read of a young man who sold books from house to house one summer. He was lame and walked with great difficulty. It was not his choice to be a crippled, but this affliction was thrust upon him. At one home the woman of the house said to him, "Doesn't being lame color your life?" "Yes," he said, "It does, but thank God I can choose the color." He was right, for he did not choose the lameness, but he could still choose how to react to it, and he did. He chose the bright color, and not the gloomy dark color. He chose to get up and out, and use his body rather than sit and gripe and moan that it was not perfect. His choice made him optimistic, rather than pessimistic. We are all pretty much what we choose to be.
The Prodigal chose to be a fast living high spending swinger, who attracted all of the people who enjoy seeing a fool and his money part company. You can only choose to be foolish like this for so long, however, for it takes money to be a fool with money. When he squandered it, he was no longer fun to be with, nor free to be a fool. He suddenly became very conservative, and instead of eating at the swankiest place in town, he started eating at the stinkiest place in town, or rather, outside of town at the pig ranch. He did not like this choice, but without resources you do not have the options available to the man with money. The freedom to chose becomes more and more limited by the loss of resources, and so he was finally reduced to the level of the swine.
People who make bad choices in life always lose their freedom. The more bad choices they make, the fewer choices of any kind they can make. Their bad choices rob them of their options. When the Prodigal left home he had a vast world of choices. He could have gone any one of dozens of different directions. But he chose to go the way of eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The problem is we don't die tomorrow, but instead we live with the consequences of our eating, drinking, and being merry. He was reduced to one choice-eat pig food or become worm food. Not quite the wide open field of choices he had at the start.
Why was his life such a mess? Was it because of his poor family life? Was it because he was not potty trained right? Was it his environment, or the things he read as a boy? Was it friends who influenced him? All of these things may have played some role in his life, but the facts are clear, he was there because of his own choices. Sure, he was used, and people took advantage of him, and he got some rotten breaks, but the real culprit behind it all was his wrong choices. Many have made wrong choices, and they have been costly, and many have ended up like the Prodigal. But the good news is, even if this has happened to you, you still have a choice.
A famous painting shows the devil playing chess with a young man. The devil has checkmated the man's queen. On his face is a look of defeat and despair. He has made too many bad choices, and now he is trapped without hope. Paul Murphy, the chess genius, once stood looking at that painting. He studied it carefully, and suddenly his face lit up. He shouted out at the man in the painting, "Don't give up, you still have a move!" He had spotted a way out, and that is the good news of the Gospel. God has provided one more move for those in the most hopeless situations. He gives us a choice. We can chose to surrender to Christ and have our past blotted out, and start life anew as a child of God. The choice is there. The choice is yours. You can choose to go home. Christ waits with open arms for all who have made bad choices in life, for he always offers them one more choice that can change their lives forever. If you have never asked Jesus to come into your life and be your Savior, do it now, and make the most important choice of your life.