I was on my way to meet my friend Trish at Edgehill Cafe yesterday morning, in good spirits and looking forward to tea and brunch. My mind was wandering and I landed on a certain gripe I have with God right now. We've been in a holding pattern on this particular topic, with me alternately pleading, then content, and then frustrated.
"Hey, God. Remember me? I don't understand why you won't let ___ happen! I have been obedient, even when it isn't easy! And other people don't (or do) ____ - why do they get these things when they're not living how You would want them to? I don't know what more you want! What is the point of this?"
As I sought clarity, I had an uncomfortable realization. I was sounding an awful lot like the brother of the prodigal son. Crap.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’It is telling that I read this passage and still have a lot of sympathy for the brother. Yes, I know the point of the parable is to show God's incomparable grace. The prodigal son wanted to sow his oats, realized he'd screwed up, and came home on the off-chance that his father would let him be a servant. Instead, the father is so happy his son has returned, he has the prized cow killed for their dinner and throws a big party.
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” -Luke 15
To the other son, it had to seem patently unfair. Here he is toiling away without any seeming recognition. The party thrown for his wayward brother had to seem like a slap in the face. I understand that the prodigal's brother wants a little tangible recognition.
I realized that some of my reaction comes from a place of self-righteous pride. After all, I didn't do x, y, or z. But when someone else gets what I've been wanting and waiting for? Well, a little bitterness has started to take root. That's why I keep going back to God, trying to understand, trying to accept, and really trying to maintain some hope in what can seem like a hopeless situation.
How do I value eternal reward over temporal earthly blessings? My sympathy for the brother lies in understanding his discontent. We may be close with our Father and all He has may be ours someday but we want something tangible now.
I don't want to turn into the prodigal's sister but I'm not sure how to change.
What say you, readers? Have you had any prodigal brother/sister moments? What's helped you through them?