In the past, I used to read this parable and be quite annoyed with the younger son, feel so grateful for the love of the father and try to ‘understand’ and justify the mindset of the brother. Lately, The Lord has been teaching me and convincing me to accept and live my true identity that is being the precious daughter of the King of kings. As a child, I was blessed to have a very loving and doting father who went beyond his human capacity to shower me with love, affection and comfort in life.

The Lord has been teaching me a lesson I hadn’t learned before, in and through this parable. I was shown how both sons acted against the father’s love. The younger son decided to demand and extract his ‘share’ without realising that the inheritance comes to us only when the present owner is no more. The father had to die for the sons to ‘inherit’ their share. By demanding his share right away the younger son more or less told the father, “ I wish you were dead!” I too can act the same way when I strive with my self-effort to fulfill my own selfish ambitions, without discerning my Heavenly Father’s will and timing.

The prodigal son came to his proper senses only when he lost everything and fell into a state even below the servants at his home. He made his little speech to his father in his mind and returned, expecting to be accepted in whatever way it pleased the father, because he very well knew he did not deserve anything, after how he had treated his father. Yet, to his utmost surprise, the father was already waiting for his return, and it was as if nothing had happened when the eyes of the father and son met. It was love of the father for his son, and nothing else. The father’s heart had not changed at all. This is The Heart of The Heavenly Father who is waiting for me to return to Him, each time I walk away from Him, for my own agenda. My true identity doesn’t depend on my holiness or faithfulness, but the state of adoption I have received through the sacrifice of His own begotten Son. When God sees me, He only sees His Son Jesus whose nature has been imparted to me, whose Blood has marked me.

Often I used to overlook the behaviour and attitude of the older son, but recently The Lord has been teaching me it is very easy for me to be in the shoes of the older son in my self-righteous attitude and legalistic mentality. I am a person who doesn’t like to break rules. I sincerely strive to follow them because I fear punishment. And in the process, it is easy for me to look down upon those who cannot be obedient or faithful, and be judgmental and annoyed at them. The Lord urged me recently to search my own heart condition always. The older son in the parable, though had been obedient to the father, had done so with a servant’s mindset and not out of love for the father. He did not have the son’s heart but a slave’s attitude. Hence he failed to see that he did not need to wait for the father to give a goat or a lamb to feast and enjoy with his friends, but as a son he had the right and freedom to enjoy all what was father’s, anyway.

I was made to understand that I too look at God as a dictator who needs to be pacified and pleased all the time, and not as a Father who is madly in love with His children, whose singular joy is to shower them with blessings and to have them spend time with Him, enjoying His Royalty and endless resources and power. As I learn to walk in this identity of God’s beloved daughter, my needs and wants and my relationships and attitude towards others have begun to change significantly. I am in a comfortable place and I can love and accept everyone the same way I am accepted and loved by my Heavenly Father.

This is the journey of repentance I am called to walk in this season of Lent, returning from my old identity and slave’s mindset of wanting to please God for the fear of punishment, and from the judgmental and condemning attitude towards those who struggle to be faithful in their faith journey. I am invited to turn to God who is nothing but love, and to live each day with the right heart condition, the same as what The Lord Jesus had, in His relationship with The Father, and towards those who were struggling in their sin and weak nature. This is the New Life in The Spirit, The Risen Lord is offering all of us.

My sincere prayer is that you who read this experience of mine, will enjoy the same identity of divine sonship and daughterhood and be spoilt by the love of The Father, and that same love will change the way you relate to others in your life, no matter who they are and what they do.

By Sunimalee Fernando