What does this parable of the Prodigal Son have to do with us today? How do we take what we've learned about ourselves and about God and apply it to our own lives?
Whether we have been disobedient, like the Prodigal Son, or just discontent and disconnected, like his brother, there are five things we need to do.
1. Come to your senses.
In the story, we read: "And when he came to himself, he said, All the hired servants of my father have bread enough to eat and to spare, and here I am, starving to death!"
Come to your senses. Realize that the way you've been living is not the best way. Come to your senses, and realize that you've alienated yourself from God and your family. Realize that you may be starving to death, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Realize that you cannot help yourself.
2. Come quickly.
Coming to our senses is a wake up call. It can be as simple as a light bulb going off in our minds: "Aha!" Or it can be a painful event, more like "Oh, no!" Whichever it is, we need to take an honest look at our life, because time is running out. James 4:14 tells us," For what is your life? It is merely a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away."
We never know when our time may be up. We need to come to our senses quickly, before it is too late.
3. Come clean
We need to get really honest about our sorry condition, just like the son did in the story. Why do we always try to make excuses, to rationalize or justify our disobedience? We need to come clean before God, and say, as the son did, "Father, I have sinned, against heaven, and against you, too. I am no longer worthy to be called your son."
God already knows, anyway. We aren't hiding anything from Him. We need to confess our sin before Him, for forgiveness. Remember, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
We also need to confess it to a good Christian friend, for accountability, because we are all sinners. Left to ourselves, we tend to let ourselves off the hook. We need to have a friend strong enough to hold us accountable for our actions.
If we don't confess our sin, we hide it. Hidden sin makes us loners, separated from God and everyone else. We live in terror that someone may find out. Proverbs 28:13 tells us: "Whoever covers his sins shall not prosper: but those who confess and forsake them shall have mercy."
4. Come home.
Runaways can always come back home. Forget your foolish pride. Just do whatever you have to do to get home. It's worth the effort! Nothing can compare to the incredible joy of coming back to a place where you know you are loved.
Or maybe this will be the first time in your life you've ever felt truly and unconditionally loved. In either case, just remember, the Father is waiting for you! "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Eph. 4:16)
Come home, and never doubt for a minute the Father's love, or His welcome! Just come home, now!
5. Come celebrate.
Coming home is always reason to rejoice and celebrate.
"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 shoes on his feet: And bring out a fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this is my son who was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is now found."
When a Prodigal repents, and comes homes, the Bible tells us there is great rejoicing and celebration in heaven! In Luke 15:7, it says:
"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, who need no repentance."
Celebrate, not for anything we have done, but for what our Father does! Not one of us can save ourselves. But we can celebrate that our God can save us! Celebrate because the Father loves us, just as we are. Celebrate, because He raises us up, above our circumstances, and sets our feet on a new path. We who were once clothed in the filthy rags of sin are now clad in white robes of righteousness, through Christ Jesus. "We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." (Romans 5:11)
Whether we are the prodigal son, or the dicontented one, here's how we apply this Biblical truth in our lives: Come to your senses. Come quickly. Come clean. Come home. The Father is waiting for you. And then celebrate! Celebrate that the lost has been found. Celebrate, not because of what we have done, but because of what the Father has done! Rejoice in His love! Rejoice in His great mercy and kindness! Celebrate the homecoming!
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. (Phil. 4:4)