Last weekend I got to thinking about the Parable of the Prodigal Son (found in Luke 15:11-32). I don't know about you, but I guess I've always thought the moral to the story was: Don't walk away from God—but if you do, and then you make the decision to come back to Him, He will welcome you with open arms and rejoicing.
But there's more to the story than the brother who walked away. There's also the brother who didn't walk away—the brother who stayed with his father and "did the right thing." He did do the right thing, didn't he?
As you look at the story more closely, you see that the "other" brother was bitter... resentful that he had chosen to "do the right thing" and yet his father was celebrating the return of his irresponsible brother (from his perspective). Hmm. Is that really, um, right?
It would appear that perhaps God is more pleased with one who walks away but then makes the right choice to come back to Him, than the one who never strays outwardly but is resentful and judgmental on the inside!
So that brings me to thinking about parenting. Is it my primary goal to keep my child from being the prodigal? Certainly, no one wants their child to walk away from the Lord. (And I don't want to downplay the dangers there.) But am I more concerned about the stigma of a prodigal child—because you know some people will wonder what you did wrong in your parenting journey—than I am about having a judgmental, prideful child whose confidence is in his "right" behavior?
Like, there might be a trap there of worrying about the stigma of having a prodigal (a child walk away from the Lord)—and just wanting a child who does the right things and looks good outwardly, reflecting my excellent parenting skills? It can be a fear of man thing driving our parenting goals. And that fear can lead to anger, despair, and other emotions that influence how we respond to our children... Though, I think it can be intermingled with a legitimate concern and desire for our children to love the Lord more than anything else in the world and to live for Him! (It's complicated!)
It's just interesting to think about. God is *so* about redemption! It's all about what JESUS DID, not the "good deeds" I do—because I can't earn right-standing with Him! Yes, I still strive to be perfect (it's the curse of many first-borns)—but consider that perhaps it's the "messy" life God redeems that is more precious and beautiful to Him! That means there's hope for imperfect people like me. :)