No, this isn’t a tale of terrible sin.
This is a look at just an average, ordinary person who doesn’t do anything really bad. This is the short version of a story of an almost—not quite—Prodigal Person, someone you might recognize.
One day this nice, normal person left home. There were no assertive words of goodbye, no angry words; in fact, I didn’t say goodbye. I didn’t pack up and walk out the main gate of the Homestead. It just happened that morning I was working on my job and faintly heard a bouncy melody. I could not make out the words, but it sounded somehow familiar, yet intriguingly new.
Gifted with an inquisitive nature and energetic determination, I decided to find out more. Perhaps what I would discover would enrich my life. I owed it to myself to learn more. Once my mind was made up I began to whistle that catchy little tune. I headed out to follow that compelling urge.
When I reached the broad paved highway I made better time. I had no idea how big and fascinatingly complex the World actually was.
As I began my explorations I didn’t yield to temptation to do anything really bad. I just sort of wandered impulsively here and there, following a new-found freedom. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. Entertainment became a full-time pursuit. People there invited me to parties and welcomed me into their homes.
At first I thrived in this environment, and can’t really recall when I drifted over to the Worldly Café. Here I ate my fill of Bitter Grapes, Crab Apples, and an appetizer called Grumble Crumbles. With a little urging I tried the Barbecue Creature and chased it down with Whiners Wine. That was a long night. Soon I’d acquired a taste for the World’s food.
If my spiritual eyesight had still been on alert I would have seen a shadowy figure following me, planning on ensnaring me into slavery. It was the farthest from my mind as I strolled along Diversity Drive towards Culturally-Creative Circle.
Time went by.
One morning dawned with a brilliant sunrise, and dew on the flowering weeds glimmered like diamonds. A soft breeze seemed to whisper my name. Truth dawned on me; I missed being home.
Although I’d eaten a lot I was starving for real food. Right now those in Father’s house would be singing praises and songs of gratitude. After eating they’d sit at Jesus’ feet to hear His Words. Then they’d be going out to work in Father’s vineyards and fields.
How pointless my life had become. I’ve got to get back home, I said aloud. Then I took that first step back.
Even as I trudged down a narrow trail the echoes of the World rang in my ears, beckoning me to a new day of discoveries of Self Enlightenment and Pride. My feelings argued, but this time my heart won out.
I remembered those awesome words of Jesus, “Come unto Me. Abide in Me. Repent.” (Matthew 11:28, John 15:4, Revelation 3:19).
I rehearsed what I would say, “Father, I am sorry I wandered off. I had no intention of dishonoring You; I didn’t do anything bad, but I . . .”
From atop that last rocky hill I looked down into the green valley. Home looked so good, but in my weakened state I had to sit on a tree stump to catch my breath. In the cool shade I felt a tear slide down my cheek.
Then I looked again. Running to meet me was Father! In an instant He scooped me up into His strong arms and held me close to His heart. There our tears mingled.
Don’t judge me too quickly. My sin wasn’t hideous; it was just average, ordinary sin. I had drifted off without meaning to dishonor my Father. However, as a result of my wanderings in the World I spread confusion among the others who saw me. I needed to return and confess to Father as much as did that miserable sinner, the Prodigal Son, and his Ungrateful Brother.
It had happened gradually: I lost my first love, my passion for the Lord, my sense of direction, my obedience. My sins included a desensitization to the sinfulness of the world’s lifestyle. Before long I talked in a coarse slang. I adopted a careless attitude towards the Word of God, as I elevated the opinions of the World. I fell out of my prayer life. There was no fruit, no maturity, and no earnest concern for others. Although I didn’t intend to, I nearly disowned my Father. I had much to confess as I knelt on that dusty road the other day.
Now I can tell you: Father’s faithfulness is true. He allowed me to choose; He permitted the consequences. He welcomed me back.
So, this is my story. Or, perhaps it’s yours?
By Elaine Hardt ©2004