My dad’s brother could be compared to the prodigal son, which would make my dad, the brother who became jealous when the delinquent son was welcomed with open arms. In my dad’s situation, there was no father to come home to. Their father left the family when the children were very young, leaving all of them to fend for themselves.
As my uncle began to sow his oats, my dad made excuses for him and cleaned up after him. My grandmother would be so happy to see the wayward son when he returned. She’d shower him with affection, while my dad sat quietly in the background. My uncle always carried a wad of bills in his pocket, but he’d ask for a loan from my dad to tide him over until the next time he returned.
In Jesus parable of the Prodigal Son, the dad grows old and the younger son asks for his inheritance. The father complies and the lad runs off and spends it all on foolishness, while the older brother stays home.
I imagine the father regretted ever giving in to the young son. He must’ve known this boy was going to be frivolous and waste his fortune. He’d seen him grow as a child and probably spoiled him by enabling his behavior. The older son was witness to this entitlement and I suppose this is where the green eyed monster entered the picture. Still, when the boy returns home, the dad welcomes him with joy. He puts out a big spread and calls his friends to join in the festivities. The responsible son is outraged.
Jesus tells us that our heavenly Father, is like the father in the story. He waits patiently for those who run away from Him. He knows the trials they’ll face. His heart aches when His children suffer. He longs to be in their life again. When the child returns, admitting his mistakes and asking for forgiveness, God willingly and joyfully gives it.
But what about the kid that stayed home? He did everything according to the book and took care of his father and the business? Didn’t he have a right to be angry? Do we believers fall into that category? We do everything expected of us. We follow the rules, work hard, walk the walk. We think our deeds are going to earn us a spot in heaven. We even stand in judgment of those who don’t. Like the Pharisees, we set ourselves in a higher place than we deserve.
The sins of the young son are evident. He pushed all the buttons to get his way. He lived the good life until there was nothing left. When he shared a meal with the pigs, it occurred to him to return home. He was at his lowest, yet he knew in his heart that his father would give him something to eat.
The older brother outwardly did everything right. Yet the only thing the father wanted from his son was his love. He didn’t have a true relationship with his father. He was only going through the motions.
All of us slip away from our heavenly Father. We try to control our lives. We go to church, read our Bibles, sing but when we leave God’s house, we go back to our old ways. We sin daily and we need God’s forgiveness daily. We are so blessed that God is waiting for us. His arms are wide open and ready to receive us.
My dad loved his brother, in spite of his mistakes. I guess that’s where he learned to be a good father. He knew that God grants grace to those who ask. He knew that he was as much a sinner as his brother, yet they were both loved by God.