Luke 15:11 A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger of them [inappropriately] said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.’ So he divided the estate between them. 13 A few days later, the younger son gathered together everything [that he had] and traveled to a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and immoral living
The story synopsis is that a young man wanted his money while he thought he could enjoy it more. So Dad gives him a chunk of change, and son goes out, makes some new friends, and parties hard until the money runs out. When the money ran out, the friends ran out. The son ends up basically destitute, feeding pigs, and starving. He realizes that even his Dad's employees are way better off than this, and he goes back to his Dad and asks forgiveness.
But here's what I think God needs you to understand.
In the Greek, the word used for what the Dad gives him is not the word for inheritance. It's the word for livelihood or living. Dad basically gave him what he could have used to be anything. It's close to the word used in the talent parables. Dad gave him a gift.
The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. (Rom 11:29) Want to know why there's a Ludacris and a Chris Tomlin? Both have the same gift. Both could use their influence in the same way. The son could have used that money to better himself; he could have used his livelihood to further his Dad's influence and make a name for himself that way. Instead, he used it to buy friends rather than earn them.
So, he ends up with the pigs. In Hebrew culture this is about as low as you could get. Think of it as a dishwasher at a fast food place. The job that no one wants. But he gets so hungry, he begins to be jealous of what people are throwing away. I've never been that hungry, but I think we've all been that desperate. So broken and hopeless, he does what he fears the absolute most:
He has to admit he was wrong.He spends the way back to his Dad literally rehearsing what he's going to say. (vs 18) That he admits he's blown it, and wants to be hired back.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe [for the guest of honor] and put it on him; and give him a [b]ring for his hand, and sandals for his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let us [invite everyone and] feast and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was [as good as] dead and is alive again; he was lost and has been found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Now, I don't know about you, but when I'm at home with my kids, I have literally no idea what's even three blocks away. Dad was waiting and looking for this kid. With Dad's influence, I'm sure stories had gotten back to him about what his son had been up to. I always imagine Dad sitting on the front porch of a big house. Just watching the road. Just waiting for him to come home.
Son doesn't get but a mile away yet, and Dad is right in front of him. Kid tries to recite what he's no doubt spent days rehearsing, and it barely gets out of his mouth. Dad hold a party.
He holds a party because his Son had come home. Listen to me very carefully.
When you are a son; you are always a son.
When you become adopted, you don't become un-adopted.
When you are grafted into the body of Christ, you don't separate again.
We were all sinners. We've all been adopted. Now, I have two kiddos, but no real idea of what it means to adopt. Several friends of mine have in the last year and I've learned one thing: it isn't cheap. Secondly, once that kid is yours; they're yours. They've literally been bought and paid for: you have a receipt. They can holler and tell you that they don't love you, they don't want to be in your family anymore, blah blah blah... But guess what? Tough sh!t. You literally have a receipt for them.
This kid was the same way; he did everything wrong. But doing everything wrong didn't change his identity. Admitting he was wrong changed his perspective, but still not his identity. His Dad had no intention of hiring his son. Ever. Why? Because forgiveness is a gift - not a paycheck.
The last thing I want to say; You didn't waste your inheritance by running from God. It's not going to come down to the very end and Dad says, "You get nothing, remember? Sorry, but you screwed the pooch." The inheritance is a living, breathing relationship with your Dad. You can't spoil it, ruin it, or run out of it. Your rewards may be different because of the time you wasted doing things your own way, but it's never not there. You're never not welcome in your Dad's house.
I don't know where this falls into your day. But know this. God isn't mad at you, and there's no penitence to earn him back. You may have gotten yourself into a mess that you feel like you have to get yourself out of. After all, it's only fair.
Grace isn't about fairness. It's not about justice.
Forgiveness is a gift - not a paycheck.