What’s in a name? To many a name is merely a way to identify oneself or close family relations, to others it is a genealogical hobby, while others recognize a greater significance owing to a family inheritance or position of responsibility. Luke chapter 15 describes the story of the lost son, a.k.a. “The Prodigal Son.” His father had land, servants, more than enough provision for all, but this son wanted something different. He asks for his inheritance long before his father’s passing, travels far away and squanders his money on things with no lasting value. Finally realizing that he was in need, he sells himself into slavery and is made to tend pigs – which were detestable to the Hebrews. He hits rock bottom as his hunger has caused him to envy the pigs food, and he was deprived of even that. Deciding to swallow his pride instead, he rehearses the apology he must say to his father and hopes that he may be accepted back as an unworthy (but better fed) servant.
There is no telling how long this son was gone, but his father was waiting and watching for him to come home. In that culture and time, the offender would typically approach and grovel at the feet of the offended one and beg forgiveness. Instead of standing upon ceremony, the father runs…Overwhelmed that his son has returned, he shows no pride, arrogance, no hint of “I told you so.” He runs. He embraces his son and does not even allow the apology to be spoken, but puts a robe and ring on the young man instead. That ring would bear the family crest or seal. That ring gave the son power of attorney to enter into business or trade agreements with other farmers or landowners bearing the full weight of the family name!
There is a heavenly inheritance we have and a Father who is waiting for us to come home. Knowing all of our most positive attributes and our most atrocious faults, he waits…and when you come over that hill…when you realize your need that only He can fill…He will come running.
I know of too many people, whether from a “broken” or “functional” home, that don’t know what it is like to have a father who takes a genuine interest in them. Too many grown children still trying to come to terms with living up to their father’s expectations, or allowing their lives to be ruled by a fear of disappointing him. This is not fodder for rebellion, but an opportunity to begin to understand our own hurts. When you feel misunderstood, unappreciated, distant, your spouse or girl/boyfriend does something that seems beyond frustrating and you don’t completely comprehend why it irritates you so – you could always blame it on PMS or stress, but perhaps you need to come to terms with a hurt that a well-intentioned but imperfect human father has left you battling. To those of you who’s father’s have abandoned you – I will tell you what I had to tell two of my children: “It is not your fault. Being a daddy is a big responsibility, and not everyone can handle that.” I was fortunate that God brought a man into my life, and together we’ve worked to raise our blended family. We discovered a whole new understanding of what adoption means when my children decided take his name! Whether it happens on this side of heaven or not, there is a good, kind, gracious, loving father who knows everything about you and he is longing to have a close relationship with you. He’ll never force it. If you want your full inheritance now – he’ll give you exactly what you asked for – but it won’t come with a robe, a ring, or the family name. The family of God comes with a name that will transform everything you thought was important. It will ask the world of you, and give you heaven in return.