The Unintentional Prodigal

Photo by Niiraj Patel from Pexels

The story of the Prodigal was always about someone else. I wonder if many haven’t become an unintentional prodigal and it happened so gradually that they do not even know it.

The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is one of the best known stories of the Bible. It doesn’t seem like a tale of gradual decline, but we are not given the details of the time between the young man’s request of his inheritance and waking up starving in a hog pen. It doesn’t take much imagination when we read that “squandered his wealth in wild living.” But as he took each step toward the hog pen, he ignored everything he knew and proceeded to waste it all. That’s what ‘prodigal’ means; wasteful.

I know the pandemic was (is) rough on us all.

I know the pandemic was (is) rough on us all. Truthfully, I expect that it will be a few years before we fully realize what happened to us during this traumatic experience – I mean really understand the impact it has had on our psyche. One area of loss has been in the spiritual connection to God.

While some used it as a time to reconnect with God, I think there are some people who let their spiritual life slide and now can’t figure out why they’ve lost interest. Focused on the news, numbers, reports of spreading illness, grieving the losses of friends and family, income and savings depletion all have taken their toll. The one place where we found security, family, hope, faith either didn’t exist for a while or had such restrictions it didn’t seem the same. So, many just stayed home.

And there they still are. I know, some remain very connected to the church even though they do not yet attend in person. Good! But some have just slipped away. And in small increments the fire is going out. I doubt they consider themselves prodigals – but if we waste every opportunity to grow closer to God and His Family, what else can it be called?

Envision the Father’s welcoming arms!

This is not to wag a finger of judgment. What can redirect the prodigal towards home? Envision the Father’s welcoming arms! I don’t know what you might expect when you re-enter the life of the church, but there will be some representatives of the King ready to welcome you with joy and smiles. Re-engage the basics of Scripture Reading and Prayer. Connect up with active believers and join in with them to serve others. One thing is always true about prodigals, the One who counts the most is ready to welcome the loudest.

I remain prayerful and concerned for those who, during a time of upheaval, stayed away from the church and decided that was ok.