The Prodigal Returns (JHV)

Note (Sept. 09): I extracted this rewritten parable from the previous post, because I think it's worth preserving on its own. I actually wrote it before I began this blog, but I've referenced it a few times and I still kind of like it, even though I don't really feel this way any more.

...So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, he met his older brother working in the field. His brother greeted him warmly and welcomed him back to the family. “Though,” he said, “don’t expect to see Father any time soon. Oh it’s not that he won’t forgive you – they say he loves you very much – but he doesn’t see any of us very often. He stays in the house mostly, in a room with a locked door.” He looked wistfully towards the house. “I thought I saw him once, watching me through the window, but it was from a long way off, and I couldn’t tell if it was him. I don’t even really know what he looks like.” He turned back and smiled at his brother. “It’s good to see ya again bro. Here, you can work with me. I’ll show you the ropes.”

The younger brother frowned. “You’re… not angry with me? I mean, I screwed up big there. And you’ve always been the good one…”

“Hey, don’t worry. Daddy always taught us forgiveness. See, we get real good at following Dad’s instructions around here. If you work hard and do what he says – he wrote us a book, you know – you’ll become an awesome farmer. You can learn from me too. I’m not as good as Dad of course – they say no one ever farmed like him – but I’m learning to do things his way.”

“Will I ever get to see Dad?”

“Oh sure! We’ll all see him someday. And that, little brother, will make all our work worthwhile. We’ll have a feast like you’ve never seen, and we’ll be together, us and Dad. But no one knows when that will be. Maybe you’ve heard that this life is all about being with Dad. That’s not how it is. Mostly we work. It’s good work, and we get to talk to each other, but don’t you believe that stuff about a relationship with Dad.”

“I just thought I could talk to him… say I’m sorry.”

“You can certainly do that. I’ll take you to his room, and you can speak to him through the door. He’ll hear you, but don’t expect him to talk back.”

“He’s never even talked to you?”

“Not me. Some people – some of our older brothers, I mean – say he’s answered them. Some have sat by the door for years, and they say he’ll have whole conversations with them. I heard one story of a brother who was invited right into the room! Oh, but he was a good farmer.”

"So if you work hard enough..."

“It’s not dependent on you though. It’s all up to Dad. I know brothers who are better farmers than I’ll ever be, and they’ve never so much as heard him whisper. Others, it seems like he just… cares for them more. He’ll talk to them even though they can’t farm as well as I can.”

“That doesn’t seem fair.”

“No, Dad’s not fair. But he’s good. He provides for us. He teaches us to farm. It’s a good life bro, and remember this: you wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for him. Who knows, maybe you’ll be a lucky one. …If you ever get to talk to him, tell him I love him. Tell him I work hard, and I just can’t wait to meet him. I mean, I’ve told him myself, and I know he hears me, but… never mind. Look, it’s great to see you again bro. You work hard and stick with me. I think you’ll make a great farmer.”