The Prodigal Who Did Not Return

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. (Luke 15:11-13)

The Prodigal Who Did Not Return

When the Pharisees and scribes complained about how Jesus received ‘sinners’ and ate with them, the Lord spoke parables to them, showing how His Father loved everyone, even the one sheep who went astray. The parables of the lost sheep and lost coin declare God’s eternal love for those who cannot find their way home. Jesus tells another story about a young man who left home for a far country and lived a wicked and prodigal life. When the young man came to himself, he repented, confessed his sin, and was restored to the father. The story of the prodigal son is a powerful testimony to God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. But not all prodigals come home.

There are souls in the church who obeyed the gospel of Christ with great joy and, like the seeds of the sower’s parable, find the world’s attraction too great and succumb to its power. It is a tragic story when faith is lost, and the child of God lives apart from the grace of God. Sin attracts the holy to live unholily. Because of the influence of friends, reputations are lost. Children of God fill their lives like the prodigal son in the parable with wine, women, and merriment without regard for their souls. Hearts are broken. Lives are shattered. There is hope the soul will turn to the Lord again. Some do come back to the Lord. Their stories are powerful testimonies of how God will forgive and cleanse. When they tell how they forsook the Lord and returned, hearts are filled with courage and hope. But some never had a chance to return.

The tragedy of prodigal living is there is no guarantee of a day to repent. When those who tell of their struggles with sin find grace in forgiveness, they realize by the grace of God, time was allowed to change their lives. Sadly, those who think they have until midnight to repent die at 11:30. There are many prodigals who run out of time. If more time were given, maybe they would find in their hearts the comfort of a forgiving heavenly Father. There is no promise of today to repent. Listening to the stories of those who have returned is measured by all those who did not return. There is great joy in the prodigal coming home and greater sadness at the prodigal left in the hog pen dying.

Sin brings consequences. The example of the prodigals who changed their lives to serve the Lord should always be greeted with great enthusiasm and hopeful courage. A deeper question must be answered why they took that path to begin with? There is power in the story of those who fell away from the Lord and returned, but greater still are those who never fell away and remained faithful. The circumstances are not different. What makes a difference in life will be the choices that are made. The story of a man or woman living faithful and devoted to God all their lives may not be as exciting as the one who falls into drug abuse, alcohol, and sexual immorality, but the greater story is the first one. It grieves the heart of God to see His child live in a prodigal world. He will forgive if there is repentance. God is also aware of those who struggle with sin and refuse to allow its overwhelming power cause them to leave His grace.

Being faithful until death is not easy, but it makes for a more remarkable story. The baggage of sin is not carried, the guilt of a sinful past does not fill the heart, and the wasted years of righteousness are replaced by a lifetime of glory and honor to God. It is always a blessing to know of those who came back home. Thank you. To those who fought the good fight and won – thank you especially.

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