Wednesday, May 30, 2012
A Prodigal Son Gives Thanks
He struck out on his own after college, a job offer taking him to a new city. Confident, like most young men, he felt he had learned all his father at home had to offer, and now there was much more for him to learn --- and earn --- on his own, and a new home to find. And as he grew in maturity he found that the learnings from his father served him well, and he found a measure of joy in his life.
But he gradually became aware of something he had never experienced before; it was something he had never been taught: failure. He found that the lessons of his father did not always yield success, or happiness. He thought he had learned all there was to know, or at least all that was important, but he found in failure some things he did not understand. Friends told him how blessed with success he was, and all the riches he had, but he thought them blind: “If this mire is success, then I want none.” They didn’t understand, and so they could not help him. What his father himself had learned (and subsequently taught the son) had brought the father success and happiness, but the son needed to learn more, unique lessons for his unique life, and these lessons he could not learn on his own. And that, in itself, was a new learning.
The son tried so hard; he followed the teachings that had yielded happiness in the past for his father. Why didn’t they always work for him? Like the Prodigal Son, he learned much in life, but for some of the hardest lessons he didn’t know that he needed another teacher, the One who had always loved and desired to teach him everything. He always knew of this Teacher, but never really sought Him. The son thought his youthful knowledge was wisdom, but wisdom only comes gradually with age and spiritual growth. Unlike the Prodigal Son, he never thought to return to his original earthly home, but he didn’t seek his heavenly one either. Proud and independent, he sank deeper in the mire of the pigsty of his life, and despite all his knowledge he couldn’t see a way out. He tried to find happiness, but unknown to him he was like the man in the wayside ditch, who had been beaten and robbed and lay dying, waiting for the Good Samaritan to help him.
Fortunately the son’s story didn’t end there. Now the earthly father was aware of what his son was doing, and likely wanted to come to the son and tell him: “It’s going to be okay. You can come home with me and I’ll help you fix things,” but he didn’t. Perhaps that was good. I’m not sure how the son would have taken that offer. Pride might have led him to decline – he was so much older, but still stubborn like a teenager. He never did return for his father’s counsels, but sought to find on his own a new start on the path of his life. But he really didn’t know in which direction to look.
Meanwhile his heavenly Father watched all this from afar, and was wise and knew of the pride of this son, and so like the earthly father He didn’t intervene. Instead He sent the heavenly mother.
When she first came, the son recognized her, and his initial reaction was one of embarrassment. “She sees how dirty I am, and what a failure,” he thought, and he didn’t understand why she suddenly was there with him in his mind. “Hi,” was all he could say. And she said even less. But he felt her smile and how she walked through the mud of his life and stood next to him, and held out her hand. And then he took it and stood. And she hugged him. And both cried. Then she helped him begin the long journey to the Father’s house, and along the way he was to be given a measure of the Wisdom he sorely lacked.
He never strayed far from the path to his heavenly Father’s house after that, although he still stumbled from time to time along the way. And when difficult times came again, as they always would, he talked about them to his eternal Father, and his eternal mother. And he never felt so lost and dirty again, never such a failure. And never alone.
I am so glad Mary called me home, and led me to the right path.
Today is May 30, the 70th year after my sister’s earthly birth, and nearly six years after her heavenly one. She was with me when I first heard Mary’s call, and from then on although we traveled our separate paths, we knew we were going home together. Sis has gotten there first, but then again, I strayed so much further from my path than she did hers. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Or perhaps God just wishes me to do a few more things along the way; and that’s okay.
We traveled different paths, but after our encounter with Mary, we felt we were on the same journey, Prodigal Children going home. And we always sought to encourage each other. We still do.
Happy birthday, sis.