Luke 15:11-16 (KJV)

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Independence is a highly valued quality.

We teach it to our children, and we demand it for ourselves. There is even a statue called the Independent Man on top of the Rhode Island State House—it stands as a tribute to self-sufficiency and freedom.

The story of the Prodigal Son, however, shows us a less positive aspect of independence—one which, sadly, is woven into the fabric of human nature. The wayward son takes charge of his own life and shuns his father’s care and protection. Fortunately, the story doesn’t stop after revealing the boy’s downward spiral of sin; it also shows us the restoring grace of God.

Sin means acting independently of God’s will.

It begins with a desire that is outside His plan.

Next comes a decision to act on the desire.

When we do, we find ourselves, like the prodigal, in a “distant country,” which is anywhere outside the will of God.

To remain there requires deception.

We deceive ourselves by thinking that we know better than God and ignoring any consequences.

Defeat follows.

For a time all may seem fine, but like the reckless son in the story, we’ll find that our way leads to defeat.

Finally, we will arrive at despair resulting from famine of spirit, emotions, or relationships.

That leads into desperation, where our choices are few and distasteful.

But desperation is not the end of the prodigal’s story.

Nor is it the end of ours when we sin. Jesus gave this account of an earthly father’s forgiving love because He desired to point us to the restoring grace of our heavenly Father.

God waits with open arms for us, His wandering children.

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