The son stalked out of his father's house angrily, clutching his inheritance! Slamming the door as loudly as he could, he paused for a moment. Then he reminded himself that he was a man. He was no longer a "little boy". He could make his own decisions. He would do as he saw fit and answer to no one. He could fend for himself and he didn't his father anymore.
He closed his eyes as he fought against the uneasy feeling in his heart. He told himself he was exactly rejecting his father like some of his brothers had done. He wasn't that bad! After all, deep in his heart, even though he was angry, even though he craved what he called "independence", he knew he loved his father. It was just that he was tired of listening to him. He was tired of being asked to do this when he really wanted to do that. He was tired of working. He was tired of it seemingly like everyone was having a good time except him.
Then there were all those things his father expected of him. There was nothing wrong with those expectations. He had to admit they were good expectations and he knew they were meant to help him rather than burden him. In fact they were exactly the same expectations he would want to have for his own son someday but they just got to him sometimes. He could see the point of some of them but others, well, maybe one or two seemed rather trivial. He would just make up his own and follow them.
With his head held high, he marched across the beautiful grounds until he came to the gate. It was a beautiful gate with a row of hearts on it. He winced as he remembered how much his father loved to express his love in various ways so that he would never forget it. As a child, he loved those gates. Funny how back then he had not viewed them as imprisoning him. He had viewed them as protecting him. What had changed?
There was no lock on the gate yet he always felt perfectly safe under the protection of his father. He was free to come in or free to go out. He winced again. He had tried to convince himself that he was a prisoner and yet the gate before him was evidence that he was not.
He thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out a fat wallet. This was evidence as well. He had not stolen his inheritance, his father had freely given it to him. His eyes narrowed and he gritted his teeth. Well he should have! He was right to demand it. The inheritance belonged to him!
He opened the gate and stepped out onto the road. He looked back at his father's house. Then he looked back at the road. The road was enticing but at the same time he couldn't forget his father's eyes nor his love. He walked down the road a few miles and then walked back to where he had started. He shook himself, grit his teeth and started down the road again only to come back and stand with his hand on the gate. He turned away from the gate once again and set up camp outside the gate. He would stay here. He wasn't exactly living with his father but at the same time he wasn't too far away...just in case he needed him. He was just outside the gate.
Over the past couple of days, I've been thinking about the story of the Prodigal Son. We are familiar with the son who traveled to a far land, foolishly squandered his inheritance and came home to seek his father's forgiveness. We are also familar with the son who stayed behind, faithfully serving the father but became angry when his father forgave his brother. That causes me to question the motives as to why that brother stayed behind but that is another blog.
However, as I pondered this story, I thought about who you might call a third son. This is the son who I believe is neither hot or cold but lukewarm. This is the Christian who is discontent. This Christian is the one who looks over the fence and tries to convince themselves that the pasture is greener over there. The problem is, in their heart of hearts, they know that is not true. I guess they could be best described as wanting to have their cake and eat it too. They want to indulge in the pleasures of this world as well as the treasures of God and end up finding themselves in a very dangerous situation.
They tell themselves they do not need to "come home" because they have never left it. After all, they are right there, outside the gate.
Image courtesy of artur84 at Freedigitalphotos.net