Not The Party I Planned
Many of us remember childhood inquiries about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Childhood seemed like such a distance away from adulthood. Patience seemed to be in low quantity when we thought about what life would be like when we grew up. And we as children can’t always be the blame because many times the adults in our lives hurried us along in the excitement by pointing us towards things that would one day we ours once we became grown.
Our passage this morning brings us face to face with a young man who was anxious to leave his youth behind and to embrace all the spoils that adulthood had to offer. Being fully aware of his father’s wealth, this young man decides that he wants what will one day be his, but he wants it now. Should we beat up on this young man because he stepped ahead of the scheduled inheritance? Should we beat up on this young man because he felt no reserve in deciding to leave his family behind? We could, but not today, because as the parable shows life beat him enough.
With his untimely inheritance in hand and visions of God only knows what in his sight, he leaves his family and starts a new experience. Poor judgment causes him to squander his wealth and a severe famine moves him to below poverty line. After he catches himself considering a most deplorable act of eating the pig’s food he realizes that home is certainly the better alternative. In verse 18 we see him planning his next move which is a return to his father’s house.
In his estimation all he needs to do is humble himself through an apology and if all goes well his father will treat him like a hired hand. He knows in his heart that returning home, under these conditions calls for humility. He can’t come in there with the same sense of entitlement that he had when he left with his inheritance. The father’s response is certainly not what anyone expected. He sends the servants out to greet the son. He immediately restores the son to his former level of blessing and a party begins. This is certainly not the party he expected.
What is God seeking to show us? Two things I’d like to lift from God’s perspective. The first thing we should see is try as we might we just can’t plan what God is going to do once we humble ourselves. Second thing we should see is that although we may never plan for our restoration, the Father has. Too often people don’t come back home to the Lord because the party they’ve planned for themselves is one of sadness, defeat and rejection. They think God will be harsh and unforgiving. They think their family members will stand in judgment of them instead of welcoming them with compassion. But once they come back to God with a humble heart what they, like this young man discovered is that God’s plans and God’s restoration is not like anything they had in mind for themselves.