Lately, I’ve been reading one of Pastor Timothy Keller’s earlier works called The Prodigal God.  I appreciate Keller’s approach to trying to teach me things. He changes my perspective by weaving the spirit of God into every complex matter. He makes me want to understand God better than I do.

Before, I started reading this book, I thought I understood the story of the Prodigal Son, as Jesus tells the tale in Luke 15. Anyone who has been lost, anyone who has fallen from grace, anyone who simply imagined they could navigate the world all on their own, can probably relate to this story. A father who has built a legacy, has two sons. These two sons would both inherit from him when he died, but the younger son decides he’d like to get moving, get out and see the world, and so he doesn’t want to wait. He wants his inheritance now! Of course, it’s a real insult to his father. Clearly the son cares nothing about this man who raised him, so the father gives him his inheritance. 

Of course, we know the son is thoughtless and goes through the money like a person winning a lottery ticket and then has nothing left. As he looks at his dire circumstances, he finally realizes his father’s servants live better than he does. Maybe he should go home, beg forgiveness and see if he can be one of his father’s servants. Mind you, he isn’t asking to be a son, just a servant.

His father is overcome with compassion when he sees his son and runs to welcome him. He invites him to come back to the family. In fact, he throws him a party. The older son, who has simply obeyed the father all these years, is outraged at the father’s response. After all, he’s been an obedient son, doing everything he should, and the father has never thrown a party for him. 

It turns out both sons are lost. Both sons are motivated by the desire to gain the father’s inheritance. One does it badly, the other does it dutifully to get the reward. Neither son does it to gain the love of the father. Neither son cares about the father at all. They are both about getting what they want. The younger son, like the children of Israel, finally gets it and turns around, seeking the Father. 

Since prodigal can also be a positive word, we see that the father loves the son with reckless abandon. He forgives him and brings him back home. He lavishes love on him because he was lost and now, he is found. God doesn’t lavish his love on us because we deserve it or because we do everything right. He does it because He is the Father. His love is unconditional!

May God lavish His love on you today!