I have heard the story of the prodigal son many times -- the son who rebels, runs away with the family inheritance, and tries to find meaning in an empty life of partying and pleasure. He quickly sinks into dissipation, hunger, and unemployment. Even though he’s a complete screw-up and is totally alienated from his family, he’s out of options (and money) so he musters up the courage to put his tail between his legs and head home.
Does his father reject him? Not the slightest bit. Instead, his father is gracious and forgiving. He welcomes the prodigal son home with open arms, doesn’t hold his past sins against him, and even throws him a lavish party.
Sometimes in our lives, we can identify with the prodigal son or daughter.
Yet there’s another person in the story. Who am I talking about? None other than the jealous, self-righteous older brother. The older brother never runs away. He never squanders his family’s inheritance. He has a steady job, lives in the right house, and drives the right car. Yet he too is alienated from his father. How could his father be throwing his younger brother a party, and why hasn’t anyone noticed that – unlike that younger rebel -- the older brother has lived his life by the rules? Life just isn’t fair when no one recognizes your true worth.
Sometimes in our lives, we can identify with the older son or daughter.
Whether you’re a prodigal or perfectionist, there’s good news for you. That's right, it really doesn't matter whether you're the renegade or the rule-follower -- you still need grace. The Father has open arms and is waiting. It’s never too late to come home.