Yancey and the Prodigal Son

Two things for today:

1) Just finished Rumors of Another World: What on Earth Are We Missing? by Philip Yancey. (Don’t ask me how long it took me!) I’m grateful for Yancey because whenever I read him, I learn so much about other writers. Yancey reads like a maniac and then quotes different people and authors throughout his books. He reads so I don’t have to. Here are some of the people he quoted in the first few couple chapters: Einstein, Dostoyevsky, Descartes, Kierkegaard, Dillard, Darrow, Hitler, Lenin, Darwin, Muir, Eliot, Lewis, Woolf, Milton. Do you see why I love him???!!!

2) Fabio preached on the Prodigal Son (and the older brother) last Tuesday. So many people preach about the younger brother and never mention the older one. Some say perhaps the deepest message to most of us is in the story of how the older son reacts. This is the part that stuck out to me in a new way:
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.

I see God’s humility here like never before. (The father’s response to his sons is a metaphor for how God responds to us). Here the older son is saying, “You never did anything like this for me.” What would be my response? “Are you kidding me? I’ve done tons for you! Don’t you remember when I threw you that party? And when I bought all your school clothes? And you don’t remember this, but I used to change your diapers and stay up all night with you when you were crying. I’ve held you countless times. I’ve kissed your booboos. I’ve bought you your favorite stuffed animal and that chocolate bar you wanted in line at the grocery store. I have worked every day in this field to put food on the table for you. I am the one who has slaved away so you could have a good life and now you’re telling me I haven’t done anything for you?”

But nope… The father (God) just says, “You’re always with me and everything I have is yours.” It’s enough to be in the father’s presence. It’s enough to live with him day after day. And his ego is not so fragile as to need to defend himself and prove to his son what he has done for him. Love in action and humility is what I see in this story. Love in a party thrown for a son who came home after running away. And love in humility in answering the other son’s jealousy, anger and pride – spoken out of such ignorance. But the father doesn’t mock him or pity him or shame him. He just reminds him what has been true his entire life, “You are always with me and everything I have is yours.”

Johnna (22 days left of maternity leave)

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