I was at a Chris Tomlin concert where he had pastor Louie Giglio share a bible story with us. Louie did an amazing exposition on the story of The Prodigal Son. Now this story tends to focus on the “rotten egg” son, the one who takes daddy’s cash, blows it partying and living it up, ends up broke and feeding slop to pigs when he gets a clue and heads home to apologize to God and his father. His father amazingly receives him like a king and welcomes him home by throwing a party and serving him the fattened calf. It paints a vivid portrait of God’s almost incomprehensible love for us and His willingness to forgive us after all the ridiculous things we’ve done when we seek His forgiveness. But the story doesn’t end there.
The other brother, who has been working all day in the field, like he does every day, slaving alongside the servants, comes home when the party is in full swing. He hears the music and laughter and finds out from a servant that it’s a party for his brother who has come home and the fat calf is on the barbee. And he is torqued off. He refuses to go in. His dad comes out and the son starts berating him about never getting a party, even with the skinny goat, and he’s the one who’s stayed home working his knuckles to the bone while his brother squandered his inheritance. His father says, “Son, everything I have is yours. If you want to have a party, have one. You don’t have to slave alongside the servants to earn it.”
The word the father chose, “Son” tells it all. We are God’s children, and He is calling us so. We don’t have to work to earn His love or the inheritance He already has planned for us. We just have to be obedient to Him as His child, with faith like a child, to receive our inheritance from Him. In a million years I never would have said that I thought I was working for God’s love. I just didn’t see it. But this story stopped me cold. I spent 17 years in a career where I worked my knuckles to the bone. I have collapsed from sheer physical and emotional exhaustion from this career. I gave hundreds, thousands, of hours of my life away to it. All for the purpose of “doing the right thing”. I justified my dependence on my own work by my own hands by telling myself I was: providing for my kids, helping people at work, having more money to donate, etc., and therefore I kept driving myself like a slave. Now these things are all necessary and honorable, but He never called me to kill myself to do it. So, in being brutally honest with myself, in “doing the right thing” I was really trying to earn His love and the provision He’s already set aside for me by working myself to the bone to acquire it out of my own sheer will. He showed me that I don’t need to work so excessively and I don’t need to strive so hard. I am not a slave. I am a daughter. And I only need to do what He’s asking me to do and He will provide the rest, just the same as you would do for your own children. So, I’m not sure if I’m going to get a fattened calf or a skinny goat for dinner, but I do know he’ll put food on my table as long as I continue to treat Him like my father, seek His guidance, and serve Him the way He is asking me to.