... he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.
Read the full series here:
1. adj, characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure; a prodigal feast
2. adj, recklessly spendthrift
3. adj, yielding abundantly: luxuriant
4. noun, one who spends or gives lavishly and foolishly
This story's just twist, after twist, after twist:
First, the prodigal son asks his father to give him his portion of his inheritance before his father's actually dead. Because, shockingly, his father is also a prodigal, his father actually gives him the money despite the fact that his son has done nothing to earn or deserve it!
At this incredible act of generosity, we would expect the grateful son to spend the rest of his years in faithful service to his father, working daily to return the overwhelming sign of true love his father gave him. Yet, again, our expectations are thwarted as the prodigal son leaves the safe care of his good father to live his own way, apart from what his father had planned for him.
He has a father who gave him everything he ever needed or wanted. This child was born in the lap of luxury: plenty of food, fine clothing, a good home, servants, and, apparently, a good chunk of generational wealth. Through no action of his own, he's what some might call “a little extra blessed.” And he had one heck of a role model! His father is the paradigm of generosity and love. This child had earned nothing, but had access to everything. I can't help but recognize myself in his exact situation.
Up to this point, though, he had never managed his own gifts. He hadn't learned to be a steward because he had no reason to. When everything he had was mediated through the wisdom of his father, he didn't have to worry about maintenance. He was like the birds who don't plant and reap their food, or the lilies who don't toil and weave their clothing. His father just provided it.
From this story, I get the picture that we are not and never will be intended to manage our own gifts in any way more than choosing between recognizing that they belong to our father, or rejecting him and using them for our own devices.
Alas, this son went through a typical, and lamentable period of believing he could do it on his own. Since he wasn't designed or intended to maintain his own wealth, he continued to believe it would maintain itself without work. Instead of trusting his father to provide in every situation, he trusted himself to provide a fun time on his own terms. This son rejects everything his loving father had planned for him and tried to make his own path. And that path was fine until it wasn't. And he began to be in need. And he had no idea how to sustain himself because he was never meant to.
Because, when you have a loving father, you're not meant to sustain yourself.