The Prodigal Son
“All scripture is profitable for teaching, for correction, and for training… (2 Tim 3:16). The Biblical story of the “prodigal son” (Luke 15:11-31) is a popular message for most prison chaplains. In this story, a father has two sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance, leaves home and, after wasting his fortune, becomes destitute. He returns home with the intention of begging his father to be made one of his hired servants, since he expected his relationship with his father to likely be severed. Instead, his father welcomes him back joyfully and celebrates his return. The themes of repentance, reconciliation, and unconditional love from that scripture speak to many of us prisoners. I can personally relate to this story, because years ago I was that lost son. I thought I could live my life on my own terms. However, due to selfishness and substance abuse, I eventually descended to my lowest state of reckless behavior. I, too, left home and found myself in a dangerous and foreign place. I was not only feeding the swine so to speak, like the prodigal did while he was away, but I was also wallowing in the mud right beside them. My condition was dark and hopeless. I had ended up in a place where not even my family knew where I was. Yet, my father did not give up hope. He was prompted by the Holy Spirit to keep searching for me. He responded in obedience, miraculously found me, and brought me home. On that day, Jesus saved my life, and the seeds of God’s love were planted.
However, my troubles did not immediately go away. But I did come to realize God had always loved me unconditionally and had never given up on me. There is a song that I hear from time to time on the radio. I just love the chorus – and can now sing it with understanding:
All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God my yesterday’s gone.
Yes, all my sins are forgiven.
I’ve been washed by the blood.
It’s been a long way back, but God has me in a place now that is close to Him. For that, I will be eternally grateful!