Then He said: "A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 'I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:11-24)
This is a wonderful story about our wandering hearts and God's great compassion. The world beckons with a siren's song that calls people away from the Lord. It is so easy (and I'm talking about believers here) for us to become like this young man and stray from our Father's estate.
Here we had a young man, living in the security and safety of his father's house. The father was obviously well off enough to go ahead and give the young man his portion of his inheritance in advance. He had servants, and owned livestock and fields that were apparently pretty substantial. Despite the affluence of his father's house this young man was discontented. He wasn't happy at his father's table. He wanted more. He wanted different, so he packs up and heads to a far country and blows his inheritance.
It is easy to look at the story and think how foolish and rebellious this young man was, but we often suffer from the same wandering heart. We have been brought into the family of God. We are now joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). We have a heavenly Father who promises to meet all of our needs (Philippians 4:19). He won't leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). Psalm 103:2 tells us not to forget all the benefits we have in Him. I could go on and on.
Somehow, though, we still seem to be prone to wander. We are probably the most distracted and entertained people in the history of mankind. These distractions draw our hearts away. It doesn't mean that we are participating in things that are wrong or evil. Sometimes we can get drawn away doing good things.
One question we can ask ourselves is , "Where is the Lord in the priorities of my life?" We all will say He gets first place, but what is the reality of how your time is spent? How often does God come into your thoughts? How does your relationship with Him play out in your every day life?
Our lives are an ongoing interaction of relationships and experiences. Our lives are constantly in a state of flux. We go through good times and bad times. We have seasons of great joy and seasons of great pain. The only thing that doesn't change is the Lord and His love for us. The son went out and spent his inheritance, but when the son returned the father didn't react the way we we might have expected. He didn't yell or scream or kick him off his property. He didn't disown him or make him a servant -- which is the best the young man seemed to hope for. When he saw his son he ran to him. He called for the best robe to be be brought and put on his son. He had his servants bring a ring for his hand ( a symbol that this is still my son) and sandals for his feet. He ordered the fatted calf to be killed and a party in celebration. His son was home.
The enemy uses the attractions and distractions of the world to draw our hearts from the Lord, but it really is all a lie. The best part of life is found in knowing him and walking with Him. Thankfully, He is a God of restoration and compassion. Too often (and what a testimony to our ignorance) we have viewed our walk with the Lord as a series of things we must do to curry favor. Time with Him and in the Word seems like an obligation to fulfill, instead of a love relationship to thrive in.
We don't get favor with Him because of our works. Jesus gained that for us, but think on that for a minute. Think on it in the context of a relationship. Think of it in the context of people who view pretty much everything about the Christian life as some sort of work. Our love relationship with Him has become some kind of chore we have to do? Ouch.
Maybe this young man began to view living at his father's place as some kind of burden? Only when he was almost destroyed did he really appreciate how great life was at his father's house. I know he was glad to be home. Our home is in the Lord and it really is the best place to be.