I’ve always looked at the parable of the Prodigal Son and asked myself if I was the prideful older brother or the ungrateful younger son, but always overlooked the one line that has been defining my struggle all along. The younger son comes to the end of his rope, the end of his self-reliance and remembers how good it is to be in His Father’s house. He finally returns home and tells his Father, please just take me back as a hired hand.
I’ve been learning lately that it is hard for me to simply accept my son-ship or more accurately, “daughter-ship” in Christ. In fact, it’s hard for me to accept that I am accepted without doing anything. I’ve talked before about being a Martha and not a Mary. I find my place in the cooking, cleaning, and serving, because anyone can sit at someone’s feet. I have to be special, right?
I just finished watching a TV Series and all of the girls have no job, no responsibilities, and no obligations. Instead, they are just high status socialites due to their last name. People watch them and follow them and they attend important events and spend ridiculous amounts of money because it’s what their family does. I tried to imagine myself in this situation and my very first thought was, “How in the world do they just live their lives as daughters and never have any meaning, significance, or contribution of their own?!?! I could never just be a socialite because my last name is Waldorf.” But then I realized that, in Christ, that’s exactly what my position is.
I haven’t achieved any status on my own. In fact, I did the very opposite.
I think I could write a book on all the things I get out of order, and if there were a form of Christian dyslexia, I think it would be named after me. I focus so much on what there is to be done for God and all the ways I can serve and impact that I lose sight of the “chief purpose of man, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
But the sad and hard deception, is that it’s easier to serve than it is to be known. And I think that’s what Jesus meant when He looked at Mary and told her she had chosen the better portion. Because to sit still for one second and stop working, stop achieving, stop striving, and stop faking and just be known in our vulnerability, imperfection, insignificance and frailty is terrifying. So I keep going back in the kitchen and seeing if anyone wants refills.
But the truth is, we were created for connectedness to our Father and He longs to know us. The very first essence of humanity was the words of our Creator and the next, His breath. Yet, we are terrified of who were created to be at our very core- connected to our Father.
And because we are afraid to allow our Father to know us, we are afraid to let others know us. Louie Giglio says that, “The degree to which we are able to receive what God has given and is giving us, is the number one shaper of our ability to have fulfilling and meaningful relationships with ourselves and others.”
We see the prodigal son walking in the same tension. At the end of His rope, He thinks to himself how sad the life he has created for himself is. He is ashamed of his immaturity and thinks he is no longer worthy for his Father to call him son. So, he returns and pleads to be a hired hand in his Father’s house. And the beauty of our Savior and Redeemer is that He does above and beyond what we could ever ask or imagine. He greets Him with open arms, puts a ring on His finger (redeclaring that he is His own) and welcomes him home with a huge party.
And we are afraid of being known and having meaningful relationships, because we haven’t yet allowed ourselves to fully receive the depth and grandeur of the love our Father has lavished upon us.
And I just wonder, if the prodigal son had first understood the love of His father how the story would have been different?
The love of our Father is extravagant. We are significant and we are enough just by being His daughter or His Son. And yes, we are called to serve and to care for others, but that is not in our own independence- just ask the son who was craving pig’s food- GROSS! Instead, we are called to love and serve as a result of knowing our Father so deeply that we image Him to those around us. We are not called and quickly mobilized to go and do. Instead, we are called to first come and know.