by Phil Baker
As we are being led through the Prodigal Love series, Pastor Brock has touched on the definition of the word “prodigal” (as his wife, Cassie, also did in a powerfully vulnerable message this past Sunday). It is often misunderstood to mean “wayward” or “straying” as it is most associated with “The Prodigal Son”. But it’s very interesting to consider its actual meanings:
- spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.
- having or giving something on a lavish scale.
- a person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way.
- a person who leaves home and behaves recklessly, but later makes a repentant return.
Once we process these meanings and apply them to the parable of “The Prodigal Son”, we see that not only was the son a “prodigal” (see Noun definition 2). But his father was also “prodigal” (see Adjective definition 2) sparing no expense on a celebration of his son’s return.
In his book With, Skye Jethani tells this story:
Years ago I was walking in New Delhi, India, with my father. We were hoping to catch a break in the traffic to cross the street when a boy approached us. He was probably six or seven years old, skinny as a rail, and naked but for tattered blue shorts. His legs were stiff and contorted, like a wire hanger twisted upon itself. He waddled on his hands and kneecaps, which were covered with huge calluses from the broken pavement. As I had many other times in India, I wanted to close my eyes and pretend people in such misery didn’t exist. But this persistent boy wouldn’t let me.
He shouted at us, “One rupee, please! One rupee!” The little guy was amazingly fast on his kneecaps, managing to stay ahead of us and in our field of vision. Finally, realizing he wasn’t going to give up, my father stopped.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“One rupee, sir,” the boy said while motioning his hand to his mouth and bowing his head in deference. My father laughed.
“How about I give you five rupees?” he said. The boy’s submissive countenance suddenly became defiant. He retracted his hand and sneered at us. He thought my father was joking, having a laugh at his expense. After all, no one would willingly give five rupees. The boy started shuffling away mumbling curses under his breath.
My father reached into his pocket. Hearing the coins jingle, the boy stopped and looked back over his shoulder. My father was holding out a five rupee coin. He approached the stunned boy and placed the coin into his hand. The boy didn’t move or say a word. He just stared at the coin. We passed him and proceeded to cross the street.
A moment later the shouting resumed except this time the boy was yelling, “Thank you! Thank you, sir! Bless you!” He raced after us once again—not for more money but to touch my father’s feet. He blocked our way and alternated raising his hands with shouts of acclamation and bowing at my father’s shoes. He was literally worshiping us.
God has so much to give us, more than we are probably asking for in our selfish ignorance. We ask Him for one rupee when he wants to give us five. Actually more! We ask him for earthly wealth and temporary things when He wants to have a relationship with us! Just as the prodigal father rejoiced at the chance to once again have a relationship with his son. Yes, the creator of the universe wants to have a relationship with little ol’ you!
When you pray today, don’t ask God for anything. Instead ask for his presence in your life. Ask Him for peace in what you already have and in what He has in store for you.