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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

The Prodigal Father

Now before you start reading with any preconceived notions about the title, this is NOT a blog post about deadbeat dads or absent fathers. If anything it is the exact opposite of that. Most of us think of the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. We think of the wayward selfish son who blew all his inheritance (which his loving father gave him early), crumbled under his pride and returned to his father full of shame begging simply to be treated as a hired hand. He knew he had, in his eyes, lost his rightful place of honor in the family. In short…he blew it. And we relate to it. We’ve all blown it. We all think – like the son – that we’ve gone too far for God to forgive, that we’ve blown it, and if He would just take us back and forgive us we’d be ecstatic with ‘just’ that. We don’t expect God to ever do anything else for us because we’re scum and He’s doing us a favor just to look our way again.

Newsflash # 1 – we can relate but we’re all wrong.

Newsflash # 2 – we expect too little of God.

Newsflash # 3 – let this picture blow your mind and open up your beliefs about God’s character and His love for you.

While prodigal certainly means ‘wayward’, did you also know it has this definition: having or giving something on a lavish scale. I didn’t…until I heard Louie Giglio speak on it over a year ago. Quite frankly…it changed my perspective on this story.

I’ve been reminded of that story lately in my own life….not as the prodigal daughter (though I always am to a certain degree, as we all are) but from the angle of the Prodigal Father. God….our Father….MY Father….who lavishes good things on me, who is absolutely CRAZY about me, who wants nothing but my best. The Prodigal Father who will drop little blessings from the sky and follow them up with huge ones in the next breath just to make sure I get the point and see Him.

What I’ve been struck with is ‘why am I surprised?’ Let’s face it….when God blesses us we tend to feel sheepish about it, almost embarrassed by it, and meekly say ‘thank you Lord, I don’t deserve it.’ We’re right….we don’t ‘deserve’ anything but hell but God has already rescued us. The work is done so He just wants to ‘lavish’ His love on us. Sometimes He does it in human ways we’ll understand because He knows sometimes we just need something spoken in our own language.

I’m trying not to be ‘surprised’ by God’s blessings. It’s a fine line between thankful and taking it for granted, and I don’t want to cross that line. But why…if I TRULY believe that Jesus Christ is absolutely crazy about me …should I be surprised when He does something tangible – physical – to show it? Don’t you express your love to others in the same way? So why do we get blown away and dumbfounded when God does it? Again…it’s a fine line but I hope you hear what I’m saying. It’s a matter of the heart.

When God blesses my socks off do I feel like I need to CONTINUALLY say ‘thank you’, ‘thank you Lord’, ‘oh Lord, thank you’ as if He surprised me by His love by meeting my needs? Doesn’t He say He’ll do that…meet our needs? So when it happens why are we surprised? Does it boil down to lack of trust in His faithfulness…or lack of faith on our part…or false humility which is really pride? Tough questions but well worth asking. He already knows your heart so it’s OK to be brutally honest with yourself.

I’ve had a number of prodigal blessings from God the last week or so.

We hit a deer a couple days ago – at 50 mph on a 2 lane country road near a hill.


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Blessing # 1 – brother was driving and due to his quick responses to try to avoid it the damage was MUCH less than it could’ve been….he could have hit it broadside with the nose of the car and as he said ‘been picking glass out of my hair’ – or worse. MUCH worse.

Blessing # 2 – the van was still drivable the rest of the day (it’s our only car)

Blessing # 3 – the mechanic said most of the damage is cosmetic and the only ‘must’ fix items are a couple of lights

Blessing # 4 – the parts would usually be about $200 at a parts store. Brother found them at a junkyard for $85.

Blessing # 5 – mechanic can fix it this weekend – his labor charges are lower than average as he does it on the side

There was something else that happened during this that was the kicker – all in the same day – within hours! Someone had a car available and offered it for the price of a repair it needed. EXCUSE ME!?! Did you hear that?! Why is that so crazy? Because we have been a 1 car family since bro got home 6 months ago and we drive over 2000 miles a MONTH in our 1996 van that just took a huge one on the chin!  We’ve actually been a 1 car family since his accident in 2012. Scott has been looking for cars for 4 months and just hasn’t found one. We have been frustrated and irritable and at times outright discouraged about it…and just last week he said he finally let go of it and decided that it would happen ‘in His time not mine.’ Well….His time came…..once we let go. In addition to this the car might be big enough and comfortable enough that I can take Mom out in it and get her out more instead of having to rely on special transportation that costs at least $70 per trip. Do you know how much that means….to ALL of us?!

This entire series of events is what left me at first laughing and shaking my head a little in disbelief….and I had to stop myself and ask the hard question: ‘why am I surprised?’ It really rocked my world! And then I remembered the teaching on the Prodigal Father. And I just smiled and said thank you (and you know what’s REALLY crazy…I had a car given to me in 2001 after our major accident….I guess God likes to give cars!).

Go reread the story. Look at it from the Father’s viewpoint. He loves His kids. He is CRAZY about each of us! He wants to be extravagant in showing His love for us. Don’t let false humility get in the way.

As Joe White at Kanakuk Kamp once told me, “Accept the love the same way you accepted Christ. Don’t ask why; just say thanks.”

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