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The Prodigal Toddler and the Sad Daddy

Usually on Friday, I like to share stories about lessons I learned from my son.  I did not get a good chance to do this yesterday, but I today I am going to share a story FROM yesterday.

In earlier posts I have talked about getting to spend the summer with my son, NB (see the post, The Monitor and the Incredible Yelling Boy for the daddy-son summer and NB initials explanation).  Over the last two weeks the dynamic has been different.  Last week my wife’s mom was here.  She left on Sunday morning, and that afternoon he was passed off to my parents.  He was with them in the lower part of the state until last night.  His attention for the last couple of days has come from sources outside of Mommy and Daddy.  Okay, there are two better words for it.  He has been SPOILED ROTTEN.

It is probably needless to say that when he is gone for a week, LA and I really start to miss him and can’t wait for him to come back.  I start looking forward to the reunion about halfway into the week.  A part of my longing for being reunited is how he acts.  He is always so happy to see us.  And, because of the daddy-son bonding time over the summer, he usually runs to me first and then wants to be by my side most of the evening.  I love this!  What father wouldn’t?  This is a special time for me, even more so after this summer because he and I had so much fun and our bond is much deeper now.

Last night, the plan was to meet at Texas Roadhouse.  My parents drove up here and went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house, and then we all met there to eat and celebrate LA’s birthday.  I could not wait to get there and get the running-and-jumping-into-my-arms son treatment.  I was excited.  I picked LA up from work and we headed over there.

We went in, with me full of expectations.  We find my family waiting for a table.  I look for NB.  My parents say, “Look who it is!” to him.  He was hanging out with my brother.  He looks at us, gets down from his lap, walks over, and says, “Hi.”  Then he started to walk away.

There went to the wind from my daddy sails!

We both called him back and he gave LA a hug.  I picked him up and held him.  After about a minute he says, “I get down please?”

“NB, we haven’t seen each other in a week!”

“I want Uncle Tommm (he really holds out that M).”

I let him down.  Completely deflated now.

After two weeks of more than adequate spoiling from grandparents, I guess Mommy and Daddy weren’t that big of deal anymore.

It did get better throughout dinner.  Towards the end, he wanted to come sit between LA and I.  Once he did he kept wanting to put his arm around me and then he wanted LA to hold him (which was difficult in a booth and her being pregnant).  His wanting to be a part of Mommy and Daddy’s life returned…though he did cry when we left when he figured out that Grandma and Grampa were not coming with us and he was not going with them.

Needless to say, I was let down by the situation in the beginning.  His love for me and wanting to be near me is awesome.  I look forward to that when he was away.  It wasn’t fun to see that I wasn’t his “all” anymore.  I know that will come and go.  My feelings weren’t hurt, I was just let down from my expectations.

This whole thing, as most things do, brings me back to my relationship with God and reminds me of the story of the Prodigal Sons.  Yes, I know I pluralized it.  I have a new understanding of the parable, thanks to my church and a sermon I was asked to listen to by Timothy (Tim) Keller.  It is called, you guessed it, The Prodigal Sons.  I am going to BRIEFLY summarize it, but I highly recommend listening to the sermon.  He also has a book on it, which I haven’t read but have heard awesome things about, call The Prodigal God.

I almost wrote out the whole set of verses for the parable in Luke, but then I looked down at the word count.  Here is a link if you want to read it for yourself (which I always advise doing): Luke 15:11-32.

Basically, the story goes that there are two sons.  One decides he doesn’t want to live with the family and work the land.  He cashes in his inheritance and goes off and lives “wildly”…basically parties and “hangs out” with prostitutes.  The other brother stays home and works the land which will all be his one day, since the other brother is “out”.  Eventually, the younger bro runs out of cash and options.  He decides that working at home is not so bad and that he would try to go back and enlist as a servant.  He does.  Before he can get there, Daddy sees him, runs to him, clothes him, and throws a party…remember, all of this is now at the expense of the older brother’s future inheritance–whatever Dad spends now are things that he won’t get later.  While the party is going on, the father then goes out to meet the older son (who, like the younger was not at home at the time, but it was because he was out working and being the “good son”.  Daddy asks him why he doesn’t want to come in and enjoy the feast for his brother’s return.  All that “good boy” can do is complain that it isn’t fair.  He is doing all the right things and he doesn’t get a feast.  And then comes my favorite part.  I am going to quote this part.

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

The older brother missed the point.  It was about enjoying the father’s company.  That is what was important.  A part of enjoying the father is celebrating and rejoicing in what makes him happy.  Both sons were lost.  The father sought them both out.  Only one came back to enjoy the father.

I lived the life of the older son.  It was to the point that I was not a Christian for most of my life, and I did not even know it.  God has done A LOT to cause many, many changes in my life and relationship to him, especially this year.  I am not going to get into my story now, but if you have not read My Time Travel Testimony, please do.  I love to share how Christ has changed my life.  In that post I tell my story about being the older brother and how God helped me learn how to “join the party” and to “enjoy the Father.”

Back to NB.  How beautiful it is for me when my son just wants to enjoy time with me.  I love it.  As a father, I need that.  Parenting is not easy.  “Raising up a child in the way he should go” drains all the life and energy you have.  But it is for a purpose.  I want NB to learn to enjoy his True Father one day.  I want him to go into the “party” and not let the world or his own goodness hold him back.

God has a secondary purpose for parenting, to point us to him.  To reveal his longing for us to enjoy him.  Everything here is a picture to point us to him.  Even if you are not a parent, think about your relationship to your parents.  What can that teach you about your relationship to God?

What do you think about this?  Are you a younger brother or an older brother?  What is holding you back from joining the party and enjoying the Father?  Can you relate to what this means?  Please leave comments.  If you have any questions about what I mean by enjoying God the Father or if that is a foreign idea to you, please comment with your email.  I won’t share the comment on here (I have to approve them all), but I will contact you.

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