As we continue our study of the two brothers, I am glad to see, by the comments some of you have written, that the subtleties of the younger of the two brother's journey into the far country are not lost on you. Yes, there is much wisdom and knowledge to be gleaned from this parable, and as yet we have barely scratched the surface.
The young man finally arrived. In his mind he had broken free. Blinded by illusion and driven by desire, he soon forgot that no matter how much money he had, it was still numbered. No matter how deep the barrel, dip into it often enough, and eventually it runs dry. He began spending his inheritance with largess and ostentation, attracting a group of profiteers and good time friends, who further assisted in squandering everything. Ignorant of the tried and true adage that when goods increase, they increase who eat them, the young man spent as though there were no tomorrow. Tomorrow became today, and the day after became tomorrow, time passed and the wheels of fortune began to turn, at first imperceptibly so.
Eventually the young man woke up one day, eyes bloodshot, lips dry, pockets empty. If in the bosom of prosperity that had been his father’s house the young man was able to blame others for his imagined unjust fate, here in the far country he was confronted with the enormity of his sin, and the fact that the blame could only be placed squarely on his shoulders. When we run out of people and circumstances we realize most often that we have no one to blame for our choices but ourselves. The young man was ever so slowly coming to the realization that he had not only sinned against his own life, but against his father and against heaven itself. He had squandered that which his father had set aside for him, on worthless, meaningless, trivial things, with nothing to show for it than an aged, pale face and a feeling of regret.
Rather than finding the joy he had so been looking forward to, rather than finding his happiness, or his bliss in the far off country, all he found was lack. The young man began to be in want, a new experience for him, something he had never before encountered while living in his father’s house. After having gathered all together, the young man had summarily wasted his possessions, with nothing left to show for it. Every commodity can be wasted in the far off country, where the specter of hunger and lack is watching from the shadows ready to consume the unsuspecting, ignorant and foolhardy traveler.
The young man begins to taste the bitter cup of being in want, the bitter pill of loneliness, uncertainty and danger. In his moments of desperation, man is forced to resort to anything, and anyone, and accept any chance he is offered. The young man no longer had the luxury of choosing his station in life; he no longer had the option of living in his father’s house carefree and sheltered. His time of having choices, or making choices had passed, there were no cards left to play, no emergency rewind, and he resigned himself to the only place that would have him, the fields wherein he was commissioned to feed swine. No longer did he consider his father’s house, and his father’s rules a burdensome thing, no longer did he consider the feasts at his father’s table ordinary, he would have been content with filling his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, but even those were out of his reach. He learned that not all men were like his father, giving and merciful. No one gave him anything.
The young man’s journey describes, vividly so, mankind’s fate throughout history, that of gathering all, squandering all, and wanting for all. This cycle began with the advent of the first man and woman God ever created, having been given everything in the garden, they wanted more, ignoring the simple fact that there is nothing more than everything. It is the cry of the modern age, a cry, which is like fingernails upon chalkboard to God’s ears, ‘we want more, we want more’, and God, shrugging his shoulders whispers to those who would hear, ‘but I’ve already given you everything. What more could you want, what more could you desire?”
This perpetual dissatisfaction with what God has already given us, is the bane of the human condition going back to the genesis of human history. Just as the young man in Christ’s parable, and even Adam and Eve, man usually realizes the error of his ways long after he has settled in the far off country, long after he has wasted and squandered, long after he has either left his father’s house of his own free will, or has been evicted for disobedience. For some all that remains is the nagging memory of what once, the painful reminder that once they lived in paradise, once they lived in their father’s house, and it was their choices that brought them to the lowly existence of living among the swine, and envying them for having pods to eat.
There is nothing greater than what God has for you. Nothing in this world, nothing of the material earth can equal the beauty, grandeur, and worth of what God freely gives His children. If we live in constant knowledge of this reality, we will no longer look toward the far off country with longing, but be grateful and thankful to our Father for making provision for us, for loving us, and keeping us.
When the young man began to be in want, this experience was so new for him that it immediately called to mind memories of his home, and the abundance he had access to there, a home of which he was no longer certain, but which invoked a sense of hope, in that he came to himself. It would seem man does not realize the reality of his circumstances except in extreme situations. Either he is lacking everything, or he has everything in abundance but is not grateful for that which he has. It is inconsequential how many things we possess, if we are never satisfied, or how many things we lack, if we are thankful, grateful, and content with our circumstances. This present life cannot be evaluated merely in quantitative terms, for as Christ Himself stated, one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. I realize this statement is revolutionary and goes against the grain of all that is being taught in the church today, but they were not my words, they were the words of Christ Jesus the Son of God, and perhaps it would be wise and prudent to heed His words rather than the words of men in possession of nothing more than over inflated egos, and a propensity for scripture twisting.
Few things are more comforting to a soul than finding that blessed balance, wherein we are not forever bouncing from one extreme to another, never finding our footing. Balance brings about contentment in the Christian life, wherein we accept the seasons of plenty with as much gratitude and thankfulness as we accept the seasons of scarcity.
Philippians 4:11-12, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Perpetual dissatisfaction of the soul is a wretched disease, an ailment from which many a Christian suffers. Often drastic measures must be taken, in order for God to open our eyes to that which He has given us, that it may be viewed in the context, and in contrast to that which the flesh desires to possess. Contrary to popular belief, I do not subscribe to the idea that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince mankind that he did not exist, but rather that he convinced mankind the things of this earth are more worthy of pursuit than the things of heaven. This spiritual blindness concerning the Kingdom of God, and our responsibility to pursue it, has caused many a soul, which considered themselves redeemed and sanctified to return to the far country, to grovel among the swine, hoping to get their share of the pods. Far too many reject the banquets and feasts at their father’s table, demeaning and degrading themselves in pursuit of lesser things.
The young man had everything in his father’s house, all that he could ever desire, all that he could ever want, yet in his heart he was dissatisfied. He had to be brought to the point of envying the swine which ate hungrily at the pods which he distributed, to come to himself and realize that even the servants in his father’s house, the lowliest of serfs had bread, and even enough to spare while he perished with hunger.
The young man no longer dreams of the high life, he no longer dreams of greatness and opulence as he did before. Only a realistic evaluation of one’s situation and circumstances causes us to come to our senses, to realize certain truths, and establish with precision our course of action from that point forward.
The crushing weight of truth opened the young man’s eyes to the enormity of his sin. He realized he had sinned not only before his father, but against heaven itself, having by his own actions given up the right to be called his father’s son. He had lost the dignity required of a son, and acknowledged he was no longer worthy of that standing. He purposed in his hear to return to his father’s homestead, not with the feeling of entitlement he had previously expressed, but with the minimal request of being made like one of his father’s hired servants. He would appeal to his father’s sense of goodness and mercy, rather than his own legal right of being called his father’s son.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.