Recently while rereading the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, I was struck by the statement from Jesus that the prodigal left home for a “distant country.” Now, depending upon what translation you are reading, it can also be translated as a “far off country.” In essence, he ran away from home. He asked for his share of the inheritance and left home.
Have you ever run away from home? Most children at least threaten they are going to leave. No doubt most of us have found ourselves in a distant place and could not believe we allowed ourselves to get into such a mess? Some set their intentions on leaving and going to a distant far-off land. Others arrive almost by accident, never planning to go there; it happened by an aimless wandering.
In the parable, Jesus intends for us to understand that the “far off land” was a place far from home, far from the father’s influence, and a place where you can do whatever you want and you do not have to answer to anyone. To the one who desires to leave home, it seems the ultimate ‘freedom’ destination. Like many alluring things, the reality is much different than the original attraction.
There are times in which we feel that we have outgrown our home. We want to experience life and see and experience the world beyond our parental imposed limitations.
A spiritual corollary exists as well. Yes, God, our Heavenly Father, cares about us, but we wonder: “what is out there in a distant country that I am missing out on?” There are many different routes or roads to the distant country. Roads have various names: sorrow, hurts, curiosity, pain, loss, or disappointment, to name just a few. In heading toward a distant country, we are convinced that the new place will offer us more opportunities than we could experience living at home. There seems to be a certain level of enchantment held by a faraway place.
Some end up in an out-of-the-way place, never intending to end up there. They wandered off to this far-away place. Where are you today? I am not meaning are you living close to where you grew up, rather are you away from the Lord?
What did the prodigal do when we came to himself realizing he was living in a pigpen and eating hog food? He realized that even my father’s servants live better than I am living. Maybe I should go home and ask my father to take me in as just a hired hand. I know that if I did this, I would have a warm place to sleep and plenty of food to eat. It would be so much better than the way I am living right now. The Bible says, “He came to himself, or he came to his senses.”
If you find yourself someplace you really don’t want to be, then like the prodigal, you need to face the facts and say, I need to make my way back home.
The young man in the story Jesus told did not stay after he came to his senses but got up and started back home. The picture of the Father is one of the best in the Bible. The Father was on the lookout for his son. He kept vigil around the clock. As the son was coming down the road, the father spots him and filled with excitement, rushes to greet his wayward child.
The father’s love is so gracious, compassionate, and forgiving that he embraces the son and welcomes him home. If you want to leave the far-off land, get up and start moving; you will find the Father is excited to welcome you home. God cares about you regardless of where you are and what you have done.
Home is looking mighty good! You are welcome anytime.