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Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:1-2

 

You know what, I don’t care or at least that’s what I tell myself. 

 

I can hear the others jabbering on about me clearly as I’m sitting again at this table, doing nothing and getting nowhere, but I never care to respond anymore. 

“Hey, you see him there?” they nudge each other. “He used to be so grand,” they snicker and laugh loudly. “He used to have all the money and credit and reputation…” they ramble. 

Yes, when I came to this city, I came rich. I had my inheritance in full. I had rich clothes. I had a good reputation preceding me. I was welcomed and honored and respected, and I found many companions and friends immediately. Furthermore, I could see that I was far better off than the rest, so I thought perhaps I would help those who were less fortunate with what I had. Thus I could show Father that I truly could be independent and that I wasn’t just a poor orphan who needs to live under his adopted father’s watch… 

 

That was months ago. Now, all I have is pretty much gone. 

“Oh yeah! He claims that he’s the son of the King of Basileia, but I don’t see it, honestly,” they whisper.

“All I see is some guy wearing maybe a bit fancier tatters and with no money and no home — just like us all here dying. Great King he must be,” another remarks.

I stand up and leave, but I wonder too. What kind of father is he if I’m on the streets now? But of course, I tell myself, I won’t stay here long. I’ll figure things out. I can do it.

 

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

 

“Sir,” I call out to the farmer as he passes by my hovel.
He reluctantly stops. “What is it? I’ve given you lodging for feeding the pigs. Aren’t you satisfied?” 

“No,” I plead. “I need food. Please.”

He stares at me, and I can feel the inferiority.

There he is in the clean clothes of a moderately successful farmer, while I have but muddy rags. He owns an extensive farm along with many livestock, while I have not called anything my own after being kicked from the city for being a foreigner who simply “leeched off the city stores,” in their own words. The farmer has been established in this country for many generations, while I… I had a father. Many months ago. Or was it years. 

“I’ve already given lodging. You can earn no more by feeding the pigs.” 

The farmer turns quickly on his heel and disappears into his furnished house. Meanwhile, I return to the mud puddle by the pigpen where I usually sit every evening to watch the sunset. When you’re pretty sure you’re dying, the things you didn’t notice before become more brilliant. 

 

Today I notice the way the barren brown fields nearly glow gold. Today I notice that the birds are silent. And today I notice that the sun sets in the west — in the direction of home. 

Father’s farm never stood so barren. It never had hovels. No one for miles around ever even neared my state of untidiness and desperation. No ever sat in mud puddles. Even the smallest and most menial laborers had their respective huts. No one ever went sick without a doctor. Father made sure of that. 

And I had left. 

 

Somehow, somewhere while living with Father’s success, I had credited myself for being part of it. By carrying out Father’s business errands, I had earned money, respect, and honor, but the brains behind it all had always been Father. I didn’t see it, though, and wanted desperately to leave and be ‘free.’

On my own in this strange land’s cities, I had made deals, talked to people, and shaken hands in my own name alone, but somehow all my money had slipped away, coin by coin. Soon, I was no longer able to lift my chin among my companions, for I had become one of them and even worse than they.

Is it too late to go back? If I leave, no one here will miss me. If I don’t leave, I will die. If I leave, perhaps — just perhaps — I will be allowed to stick around. At the very least, I won’t die… 

 

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

 

The sun is rising as I trudge across the damp grass, and as the mist clears and the silhouette of Father’s farm nears, I nervously recite in my head my speech: 

“Father, I’ve sinned… against you and against heaven by running away… I don’t deserve to be called your son…”

 

Then I hear my name. 

 

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

 

It must have been a spectacle, an honored and wealthy landowner in embroidered robes unreservedly hugging a thin, penniless boy in muddy rags. But I felt no inferiority, not because of pride but because I realized that Father still loved me.

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:24

Hymn Spotlight: “His Mercy is More” ~ Shane & Shane

“Even When You’re Running” ~ Casting Crowns

 

Image Credit: Hannah Wong

5 Comments

  1. Great job Hannah. Thanks for giving me the prodigal son’s point of view. loved it.

  2. This is really good, thanks for writing!!!!!!!!

  3. That was very well written and touching!

  4. Claire McDaniel

    This is so dear, Hannah. Wonderful job 🙂