And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Was this the first time he had ever been in want? Surely in his father’s house he never went without. His father had generously given him his inheritance. He acted as if it would never run out. But when it does, when those temporary pleasures have all passed away, all that’s left is the emptiness of not being with his father. Because when he comes to his senses and goes back home willing to be a servant, he realizes that relationship with his father was the most valuable thing he had. He realized what truly mattered most.
Our time in the world leaves us hungry, wanting and desperate. It does not really contain what we hoped for. It is not pleasure and satisfaction that can last. It is not significant enough to make a meaningful difference in our lives. The illusion we so often believe is that we will be content and happy indulging in all that this world has to offer, but we can never really anticipate the full cost that will be required. We can never imagine where we might end up. There is nothing life-giving in that place far from where we are supposed to be.
But when we abide near to God, we are never left in want. He is the source of all that we have. And we can’t sever that connection with Him without losing something valuable. It wasn’t just that the prodigal son’s resources had dried up, but his father/son relationship suffered. He was worried he couldn’t be a son anymore after what he’d done. He feared permanent damage to that bond with his father. No one else could or would give to him what his father would.
The father in the parable didn’t cast his son aside or let him be a servant in his house. He only wanted his son back regardless of what he’d done. Home was where his son belonged, and he embraced him with open arms and poured blessings upon him as soon as he returned. When we’ve spent too much time out in the world wasting away, God just wants us back home with Him. He wants to restore that broken relationship, and He immediately pours His love into our lives. He wants His children to dwell near to Him. May we carefully guard our relationship with the Lord and not waste our time wandering around in a world that will not satisfy.