One of the most fascinating chapters of the New Testament is Luke 15. In it, Jesus tells three stories of lost things. A woman has lost a coin from her headband which signifies her virginity for her fiancée. An owner is missing one of his sheep, and a son leaves home with part of his father’s inheritance and travels to a far country. Each of the stories calls attention to something important which has been lost.
Many know the story of the “prodigal” son. The story is really about the father’s loss and love. When I reread the story, I find myself thinking about the long road home from the far country the young man traveled. I think that is a story being lived out in our families today.
Estrangement is not a new phenomenon. Each of us has felt the need to assert our independence from our birth families. The child who has lost a family or lived in a foster home struggles with other issues.
Often in my counseling office I listened to people who struggled with their own “far country” experiences. Some had run away; others deliberately moved far away from parents to find their own place in the world. It is not unusual to come to a place where we feel the need to go home. It may be only for a visit but there is an emotional draw for most of us to return to the familiar.
Two key experiences are highlighted in this phenomenon. One is the longing in the heart of the parent who misses the child. For whatever reason estrangement has taken place, a parent experiences a certain emptiness until the child who is now an adult finds the long road home.
The second is the emotional call to embrace the parent who loved and felt the pain of letting the child go into the “far country.” The story gives us a glimpse of the father watching for the son to return home. It also lets us hear the son saying to himself, “I will go home. My father’s servants live better than this place where I am.”
Each of us only really matures when, like the son in the far country, we “come to ourselves” and decide to get on the long road home. At the end of the road, the Father waits. Life is not fulfilled until you find yourself spiritually wrapped in the loving arms of God. It’s time to take the long road home. Your heavenly Father is waiting there.