Friday, February 03, 2006

The Prodigal's Father Explained

I am aware that I just slapped up a poem without any explanation of where it came from. I am the author and I wrote it on Wednesday. I am due to preach this Sunday and the theme is about the Father heart of God.

My father died of cancer when I was quite young, so for me the whole theme of "father" was just somewhat outside my experience. My views of fathers came from watching "Little House on the Prairie" and "The Waltons". I recognised that the fathers portrayed were not real, though for some people that might be exactly what they experienced - but for me, fathers were people who were just not there. I wouldn't say that I felt abandoned or anything. I don't feel "angry that my dad died and left me" - it was something that happened and my mum stepped in to be both parents. "Dads" to me were irrelevant. I had a mother who was wonderful to me, who provided for my needs, assured me of her love - all those things that dads also do.

I often wonder what my dad would have thought about how I turned out. Would he be proud that I am a teacher? Would he be proud of my marriage to Joe? Would he be pleased that I left the Roman Catholic Church and headed in a different spiritual journey? Would I be the same person that I am now had he been around to exert an influence?

The only idea I had when I thought about God's father heart was the prodigal son. I have read and re-read, and meditated on the story in Luke. In times past I have preached the story from the point of view of the younger son (the whole repentance thing) and from the point of view of the older son (the whole non-judgemental and acceptance thing), but at the end of day, the story is about the father (the whole love thing!).

I am trying to get to grips with the generosity of the father, and the cost of his letting go. I am not a parent, but I recognise that we want to protect out children from the harm that life inflicts. To step away and allow the child to fall has got to be hard. The father is wise enough to know that some things can only be learned from the pigsty. Too often we want to cushion the fall - but in doing so we deny our child the chance to "come to his senses". God is no different.

What the father had to trust was that all the learning that had gone on in the home, before the child left, would be there for that moment.

So that is where the poem came from!

1 comment:

Mark H said...

Cool :-)

I also like the father's total abandonment of dignity in running out to meet his returning son (understood against his social standing within the historic cultural background of the parable). Isn't that exactly what God himself did for every one of us, in Jesus at the cross? His love for us, and our restored spiritual status before Him as His sons, is dearer to Him than even His own dignity - and NO ONE is more deserving of honour than He is. I'd better stop now or I'll start blubbing ;-)