“The goal of parenting isn’t to create perfect kids. It’s to point our kids to the perfect God.” – Lindsey Bell
We all want perfect kids. We attend seminars, read books, and talk to others about parenting when our first child is on the way. But when the “little one” arrives, we realize that babies can get their days and nights switched, Little Joey or Sarah didn’t sleep a minute. Nor did staring at the clock and wondering if this whole parenting thing was such a good idea. And that is only the beginning. All kids are different and will provide different challenges for their parents. But one thing is certain: there is no parent that has it all figured out on how to guarantee perfect progeny.
The father in this famous Prodigal Son parable (Luke 15:11–32) would have wanted perfect children too. Instead, the parable offers much to teach us about being a parent of imperfect children. We meet two sons. The younger son asked his father for his inheritance before the father died. Dad had to know this would not be in his son’s best interest, yet he gave him the money. It ends in disaster.
When we understand that a parable is an imaginary story to illustrate a spiritual point, we can quickly perceive that Jesus is using this account to teach us of God the Father’s love for each of us. And while we are all sinners, as was the prodigal son, it is heartwarming, comforting, and, yes, almost incomprehensible that God the Father is willing to accept us back, given the mistakes we have made.
There may be times in our lives we’re like the prodigal and other times our attitude is more like the old brother’s, but the truth is we are all called to be like the father. This isn’t just a story of a boy who wanted to experience the wealth of this world or a brother with a bitter heart. It’s the parable of the compassionate father. He loved his sons and showed them grace and forgiveness in different ways.
Our heavenly Father’s love for us is beyond measure. When we are far from home, He eagerly awaits and yearns for our return. And while we are still far from His doorstep, He rushes to meet us and walk with us the rest of the way. In the same way, He has such compassion and understanding for those who have trouble welcoming the prodigals. And He will walk us into the party too. We are in His family and our Father loves all His children.
Furthermore, He is “patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). He “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4).
- What do you usually think of the story as being “about”?
- Do you think of it as having a happy ending? Why or why not?