What to do with a Prodigal Son

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there  squandered his wealth in wild living. Luke 15:13, NIV

One of the most important yet difficult lessons that we must learn as children of God is that He does not enable sin. It's interesting to note how many people will accuse God of abandoning them at the very time they need Him most - yet nothing could be farther from the truth. If God is not with us, it is only because we left Him.

Jesus illustrates this fact in the parable of the prodigal son. In the parable the son comes to the father and asks for his inheritance. A bit bold when you think about it, seeing as how the father was not dead, but the father acquiesced to his son's request all the same. Then the prodigal son did what all prodigal sons do: He left home so he could enjoy some wild living out of the sight and control of his father.

Something else took place that eventually happens to all prodigal sons - he ran out of money. Then the country he was in began to experience a famine (have you ever noticed how there always seems to be a famine in our own lives... whenever we leave God?). Then the son began to starve.

It is vital that we understand what the father was doing during this time. He did not go looking for the son, or wire him additional funds, nor did he in any way enable his son to continue his life of sin. But he never stopped looking for the son to come home. And the son eventually came to his senses and started back to the father - not for more money for more wild living, but to repent and ask to serve.

Here is something else that is vital for us to understand: The moment the son started back the father saw and ran to meet him because he had been watching for his son to come to his senses and to come home.

We as parents (or prodigals) can learn something from this parable. First, if our kids turn away to sin, don't rush after them to clean up their mess. Second, don't invite them back home as long as they are sinning, or they will bring their mess into your home. Third, and this is really important, never give up looking and praying for them to come back... on God's terms for they will come back to do good only if you will not allow them to come back to do evil. We can learn a lot from God, if we will just open our eyes and our hearts.

When he came to his senses, he said... "I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men. So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Luke 15:17-20,NIV