Jealous of the Pigs
One of the most famous stories Jesus told was the one about the Father who had two sons. One rebelled and took his inheritance to a distant country and wasted it trying to have a good time. The other stayed home, but refused to celebrate when his brother finally came home. Many sermons have been taken from this story, and we can all find ourselves in it if we try.
Let’s look at the first boy. It is interesting that this presumably Jewish boy ended up feeding pigs. Those were unclean animals to the Jews and this boy had sunken so low as to serve pigs. In fact, he was jealous of the pigs because they had food according to their liking and he was hungry.
Have you ever been there? When everything you’ve tried has left you hungry for something deeper, bigger, better? After eating at the table provided by your culture, you feel malnourished? You feel like you are competing with the pigs for their food? It is the inevitable destination for all of us who take life into our own hands to find ourselves or our destiny. The pig pen is on the schedule.
If you can identify the pig pen and are willing to call it what it is, you are blessed. It is evidence that you have already been shown mercy. This awareness is a gift of God.
It seems that some spend a long time trying to make the best of a pig pen and its inhabitants, calling it other things than a pig pen. If the pig pen is where you are, take courage.
Sometimes late at night the pig pen memory will return. Refuse the shame that offers to cover you. You aren’t there anymore.
Stop! Pause and thank God that you see. Name the pig pen as just that. It isn’t your home. You don’t have to stay there.
Go home! There is a Father waiting. He never wanted you to leave, but he does want you back.
Submit to the Father. You’ll want to tell him how foolish you’ve been. You will try to explain how low you have fallen. You’ll try to bargain with him to get a job as the lowest servant in the house. Don’t be surprised if he interrupts your confession with the announcement of a big party.
Go to the party. You don’t deserve it and you know it. Wear the robe he gave you. Flash the ring on your finger. Stand confidently in those shoes that sons wear. You’ll feel like an imposter at first, but this is the Father’s house and his rules apply. There is nothing the Father had rather do than celebrate you and your return.
Your memories will remain, but you will make new ones over time. You are learning to live as a forgiven and restored son. That is what you were looking for when you left to find yourself.
Enjoy the Father. Work with him. His ways are fascinating.
Sometimes late at night the pig pen memory will return. Refuse the shame that offers to cover you. You aren’t there anymore. The pigs haven’t missed you and your Father is smiling.