11 Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them.13 Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living.
14 “When he had used up his resources, a severe food shortage arose in that country and he began to be in need. 15 He hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from what the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. 21 Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! 23 Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting 24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:11-24, CEB
Yesterday I wrote: The point of the story is not “how to avoid being a prodigal son” or “what to do if you’re a prodigal son”, it’s more like this: What a relief it is to have such a giving, forgiving, merciful, and caring God.
I’m not saying our mistakes are totally inconsequential. I’m not saying that how we live doesn’t matter. What I’m talking about is how we think of and deal with our pasts. Likely all of us have parts (or even wholes) of our pasts that we regret and wish we could change. Perhaps we think that they make us unacceptable or unworthy. Perhaps we think we’re unforgivable.
That’s the kind of thing this story addresses. The path behind us is truly behind us. There’s nothing we can do to change it. However, in front of us is a loving, merciful, forgiving God.
The question is, where do we go from here?