My favorite part of the Prodigal Son story happens in verse 17, after the younger brother’s over-the-top adventures in a distant country where he spends his entire inheritance and winds up without friends or food. After six verses of riotous behavior and its consequences, the prodigal has a moment of awareness when he came to himself. The prodigal finally turns inward, turning this story into one about recognizing what is true and returning to it. This becomes the story about how God’s love redeems the world.
Maybe this son recognizes that he has been living in the shadow side of his nature. Maybe he recognizes that something has been missing in his life. Or maybe he just recognizes exactly how hungry and tired he is. No matter what stops him from continuing on his self-destructive path, he does turn around and head for home, returning to his roots.
The prodigal comes to himself. He looks inward to that place where God dwells, his true nature. He knows that is where he needs to return. He needs to go back to his father and the place of his grounding. The prodigal makes his way back and admits what he has done and what he has become. He opens his soul to transformation, and we witness how excited his father is to welcome him home.
Each time we come to God in honest devotion, we are doing the same thing. We are returning to the recognition that God dwells within us and teaches us who we really are. Looking inward and acknowledging the shadowy nature of ourselves is part of the process of reuniting with God. Self-confrontation leads us to realize that we are constantly on this spiritual journey. This is the work of our life.
In what ways do you need to return to God?
Loving God, when we feel far away from who we really are, help us return to ourselves and to you. Help us know your welcome this day. Amen.