It was the stench that woke him up. Gagging, the boy forced his eyes open. Seconds later, he regretted the action. Standing right over him was a large pig dripping a gooey substance from its snout. The nostrils widened as the hog sniffed, trying to determine if he was edible. The boy scooted back and shooed the pig away. With a grunt, the animal turned its ample backside and wandered off.
A shivering fit descended on the boy, and he hugged his knees as he rocked back and forth. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a decent meal. His new boss seemed to have forgotten he even existed, let alone think that he needed food. Last night, he was so tempted by the swine feed, he’d fallen asleep covered in it, inhaling the scent. No wonder the pig thought he was food.
“At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare,” he said to himself. “And here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ (Luke 15:17-19)
Determined, the boy jumped to his feet and started on the journey. He didn’t even need to pack a bag – he’d lost everything. Hard to believe he was the same person who left home with half of his father’s wealth. The memory made him uneasy. By requesting his inheritance, he’d pretty much declared that he couldn’t wait for his father to live out his days. Had father forgiven him?
He wondered all through the trip. Finally, home loomed in the distance. His stomach knotted at the sight. How foolish he’d been! No way he’d be accepted back. He was a disgrace to his family name. Slowing, he began to turn around. Better to die in the desert than face more rejection.
Just then, a shout broke the silence. A solitary figure burst from the house with his robe hiked up. The shouting continued, and a crowd began to gather on the homestead. The figure ran, oblivious to the commotion.
The boy’s eyes widened in shock. The next moment, his father was upon him, embracing, kissing, weeping. Overcome, the boy wept too. “Father,” he cried. “I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.”
“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (Luke 15:21-24)
Have you strayed from home? Come back. Don’t be afraid – your Father waits.