Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Prodigal Unaware

And there he wasted his possessions with prodigal living. Luke 15:13b

For many years I heard “The Prodigal Son” story and thought what a shame it was that the father’s resources had been wasted. Then, I noticed a subtle possessive pronoun in the last half of verse 13 and my perspective changed.

Jesus said that the son “wasted his possessions.” Those possessions had been the father’s, but once given away they truly, completely belonged to the son. They were no longer called the father’s, but boy’s. All the benefits had been earned by the father, were lawfully part of the father’s estate and under the full control of the father, but when he “gave,” the father freely and completely released ownership to the control of the boy.

Our Father, God has given us many gifts: relationships, food, physical bodies, jobs, friends, opportunity, cars and breath. Many of these gifts are scattered freely to all people (Mat. 5:45) but others are carefully chosen for specific followers (I Cor.12:9). Yet, in each case, because these things were truly gifts, we can do with them as we will. If we waste the gifts, it grieves the father, but He has plenty more where those came from. The primary loss is not His, but ours.

One general gift bestowed on all living is the gift of time; something of which most of us feel we have too little! There are schedules and obligations which can’t be avoided. Our time is committed to jobs, commuting and social responsibilities. We have to use time for personal care and sleep. We need some of it to pick up children, find something to eat and make it to the next soccer game. But, in truth, time is our personal possession. It was freely given us by the Father and we can do with it what we will.

While demands swirl around us, it may not always feel like time is our own, but it is. We can choose to horde, give, enjoy, use or waste our time. It is a gift from our father.

Think of how you spent your last twenty-four hours. Were you faithful to the responsibilities that came your way? Did you prioritize and willingly let go of those things for which no time was available? Were you able to enjoy your gift of time without guilt when you spend some of it on yourself?

As I looked at the last phrase of verse 13, I found myself grieving. How often had I let my resources slip away with neither notice nor care? It is wonderful to know that the Father always welcomes us home and never turns away a repentant heart, but the loss of life and time can never be retrieved. The realization made me determined to never let the days slip through my hands while I became a prodigal unaware.

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