Lavender, Spices, and the Prodigal Son
Will the prodigal be redeemed at the end?
I remember in high school, that the parable of the Prodigal Son was a thorn in my side.
I would argue that it was unfair that the faithful son (representing the born again child) got nothing special from his father (representing God), but hard work each day in the field.
In contrast, the younger prodigal son, was not required to work, but allowed to wander away from home, squandering his inheritance in sinful activities.
Only when the money was gone did the younger prodigal son feel regret, and want to return.
As long as he had money, he was happy to stay away from home, and enjoyed himself.
So the younger prodigal son returned home, prepared to apologize, and at least be restored as a servant to his father.
The father saw the prodigal son coming down the road, and ran out to meet him, ordered a feast to be prepared, new garments and a ring to be placed on the son’s finger.
The father was overjoyed, but the older son was not.
All those years, the older son was faithful, and worked each day. Yet, the father never celebrated him, or gave him a party with his friends.
The younger son’s inheritance was being restored, and since the original money was gone, it would be logical to take away from the older son’s share to once again provide for the younger one.
So the older son suffered twice because of the younger son: once, by having to do all the work, and twice, by having to share his inheritance with the wasteful, younger brother.
While it is understood that the father was happy that the younger son came home, it seemed really cold of the father that he did not treat his older son with the same joy and generosity.
I have seen explanations that the older son was not the nice one, and was unforgiving. I have also read that he should be accused of also being a prodigal, but in a different way.
I do not accept this. He had been slighted by the father, and his feelings were hurt.
With all the prayer requests I get for salvation of unsaved loved ones, I know this is a big issue with many: to see the prodigal come home.
I have unsaved family members like many other people.
I have made promises to other family members, or just to God Himself, that I would pray for the salvation of the lost one.
Many people are praying for those who are actually hurting them, examples: a lost wife or husband, or adult child on drugs or in a life of crime.
This complicates the psychology of the situation.
In the parable, the younger son just went somewhere else and sinned, until he was worn out.
But for many people, the prodigal is with them, or close by enough, to have their sinful choices cause damage to the “older son.”
The saved individual has to not just pray for the lost one, but at the same time, protect themselves from injury, due to the actions of the lost one.
They have a sword so to speak, or a lawyer, in one hand, and a prayer book in the other.
The lost one has done much to damage or destroy the life of the saved one.
So having to control their anger, and anguish over the injuries, they continue to pray, sometimes for decades.
This is exhausting, especially when the saved one sees their blessings stole away, or destroyed by the lost one.
It is hard to sincerely pray sometimes.
And it is tempting to just let the lost one go.
And it is also tempting to think that God does not care about the saved one, who is stuck with all the work, while the lost one enjoys themself.
This goes back to the reality that good people suffer, and have more work responsibility and even blame, than wicked people.
The challenge is how to handle this on a daily basis, and also try to keep a close relationship with God, who seems to be allowing all the pain, loss, and suffering to occur.
One can start to feel unloved by God, and numb at the same time.
Somehow, they are “second place,” or of lesser value or priority, than the wicked one to God.
The wicked one is “blessed.” The saved one feels lacking.
Why bother being good at all?
Live a life of sin, and just remember to repent before dying!
Then there is the old argument that we do not know when we will die, but that is true for everyone. And this does not seem to be enough motivation to stay the course.
Being saved in a lost world can be a VERY lonely path.
Lately, I had been musing over all these thoughts, and all the people I prayed for.
I have felt the exhaustion, discouragement, anguish over the constancy of the lives prayed for.
They showed no signs of repentance.
I was uncertain of whether my prayers were doing any good, especially when there is no feedback or communication from anyone.
Or, I would hear news that indicated, after so many long years, that the person was still the same.
I stood on my back porch, and quietly just kept thinking.
Was I praying the right way?
I was tired of praying.
Maybe the fatigue, or irritation over injuries, made my prayers ineffective.
But I still felt responsible to do the right thing, and keep my promises.
The big question haunted me: if they die and they are still lost, did I waste my time praying for them?
What was the use?
All this stress, and I could have been happy doing something else.
Also the frustration: I who had nothing had to pray, at times, for others who had everything.
A huge breeze came out of nowhere.
The fragrance of lilac and lavender, and all sorts of spices filled my lungs and my mind.
It was so wonderful to smell.
I was caught up in it, and enjoyed the comfort it seemed to bring at just the right moment.
A few hours later, it happened again.
There are no such flowers in my back yard, or in my house.
The Holy Spirit had come to comfort me.
He relaxed me with the beautiful, heavenly fragrance.
I felt more peace come into me.
He gave me the assurance that my prayers were heard, and not for nothing.
God had read my heart, and seen my tears.
He saw the saved one anguish and cry over the lost one.
He saw the injuries that were received, and how that did not stop the prayers from going up.
Someday, my tears will be turned into rejoicing, as I meet those in heaven that were prayed for.
For those who pray:
Do not give up.
To some is given more responsibility because they have proven faithful, and are willing to serve God.
God needs our prayers for our lost ones.
He sees our tears, and our fatigue, and our frustrations.
God tells us that we ARE our brother’s keeper.
The reward may not be in this life.
We may only experience pain and affliction.
But soon, someday very soon, we will feel the joy that comes with loving service to God.
We will experience God’s joy, in the salvation of the lost one coming home.