Remember the story of the prodigal son?* The wild, rebellious son squanders his inheritance, “parties like it’s nineteen ninety nine (B.C.),” then runs out of money, comes to his senses, and humbly returns home to the forgiving and open arms of his father.
A lot of people relate to the prodigal. We’ve all fouled up at one time or another and crave the idea of our Father welcoming us home with unconditional love.
But, I must admit, more often than not, I relate to the jealous, older brother. I have always been a straight arrow—trying my best to do what is right. I can relate to his indignation when the black sheep of the family returns home without so much as an “I told you so” from the father. In fact, his father didn’t just turn a blind eye to what his dead-beat son had done, he rewarded him. What’s up with that?
Throughout my life I’ve heard many a message highlight the jealous, older brother’s, well, . . . jealousy. But in this post, I’m going to take issue with that. What if his jealousy simply makes sense? I’m not saying that his jealousy is acceptable or good. But what if it’s logical, natural, how any of us would feel if we had walked a mile in his shoes? I don’t think the only point of this part of the story is to bash the big brother, but rather to recognize that many times life just doesn’t make sense. I’ll go one step further. Many times God doesn’t make sense. Does that mean He’s wrong or arbitrary or forgetful of our plight? No, I think it means He is really, really big . . . and most of all, mysterious—at least to us who are walking around in our human suits. As long as we have air in our lungs and dirt under our feet, rather than over our coffin, we will not understand God’s ways.
Looking closer at this jealous, older brother, what if he wasn’t simply the antagonist in this story, but also the loser? I mean, he really missed out on life and joy and blessings that were all around him because he wanted his father’s actions to make sense. He was back there trying to solve a cosmic Rubik’s cube while his brother was getting his boogie on!
So what’s the bottom line? I wish I could give you some profound truth that would soothe your soul and give you all the answers to your questions. I want that for you. Believe me, I want that for me too! But the truth is, if I knew of an explanation for why God does what He does, it wouldn’t make sense to you or me anyway. Because our human minds can’t comprehend what God’s mind knows.
With that in (my limited human) mind, I’m determined to quit “making sense.” I want to put aside my logical, natural jealousies, as well as, any questions I have with God. I don’t want to waste another minute shaking my fist at Him or whining about how unfair my life is compared to so and so. I want to embrace His bigness, His mystery. And I want to join the celebration for those who are experiencing God’s blessings now–and truth be told, that’s all of us!
Let’s get this party started!!
“Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty? Such knowledge is higher than the heavens— and who are you? It is deeper than the underworld— what do you know? It is broader than the earth and wider than the sea.” Job 11: 7-9 (NLT)
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Is. 55:8-9 (NIV)
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” Romans 11:33 (NLT)
*Story of the Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11-31