One of my favorite bible stories is the Prodigal Son (Luke 15.11-32). I like to call it the Prodigal Father. One of the meanings to be prodigal is to be excessive, overabundant in spending, and I would argue that although the son demanded his inheritance early and spent it recklessly, his father spent even more to bring him back home safely!
But what about the prodigal son’s brother, the Scrupulous Son, as I like to call him (thanks dad). . . To be scrupulous means to have a moral or ethical consideration or standard that acts as a restraining force or inhibits certain actions. I’ve always been fascinated with the Scrupulous Son because I see a lot of myself in him. I do not ascribe perfection to this son or to myself. Like him, I have never really left home (used metaphorically). Many would say that my testimony (the story about what God has done in my life and how my life was saved/transformed) is corny and boring. For all of us, it’s only a matter of WHEN grace intervened coupled with WHEN we accepted it. For some, it intervened/was accepted earlier and for others, later. But we all, thank God, are recipients of grace! My story doesn’t contain horrific happenings and near-death encounters with jaw dropping details of my rescue and return. For the most part, I always played by the rules – I was scrupulous.
Life comparison – Prodigal vs. Scrupulous
Fast-forwarding through the story, the father makes quite a big deal, and deservedly so, about his prodigal son’s rescue and restoration to sonship. The elder son, this Scrupulous Son, is not enjoying all the commotion and festivities in honor of his little brother. He says to his father, “I’ve never disobeyed you. I’ve never dishonored you. I’ve never disrespected you. I’ve always been here being faithful and obedient, and working for you tirelessly like a slave. All this, and you haven’t even given me a young goat so I can celebrate with my friends. But your other son, wastes your money and property on whores and reckless living – but you’re giving him a fattened calf!?” (To have a calf back then means you had tons of money). The father responds and says, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours,” (Luke 15.31). I heard the father’s words in a different way:
“All I have WAS your brother’s. But he took an early inheritance. I can restore his sonship and status but I can’t restore his inheritance. It’s gone.”
“All I have IS yours,” he says to the elder brother, the Scrupulous Son. “You never left. Your inheritance is still growing and still waiting on you!”
I imagine him going on to say…
“While your brother was away spending away his inheritance, don’t you realize how bad life got for him? He was dishonored and disrespected in the greatest ways! He was a son of a wealthy man, but ended up hiring himself out to work for someone. He barely had to work when he was home. He traded sonship for slavery. He was hungry. He lost his mind. He was homeless. He was all alone. Your decisions, in spite of your brother’s, kept you from all that! While he scrounged for food, your belly was full. While he looked for a place to lay his head, you slept soundly every night. While he disgraced himself you were honored. He HAD to work. You CHOSE to work. He lost his shoes (which represent sonship) while yours never came off. He’s home now, alive again, and I’m bringing a fattened calf for him. But you never left, so you’ve had access to all the calves you’ve wanted the entire time – and will continue to BECAUSE YOU NEVER LEFT!
I say all this to say, that I frankly reject the notion that suggests we need to experience bad days in order to appreciate the good ones. Why do we feel that experiencing bad things somehow purifies our perception, understanding, and gratefulness for the good? I realize bad days and bad things happen to us all. That’s life. Time and chance happens to us all. But I’m sorry, I do not at all accept that I need to experience the Prodigal Son’s failure in order to appreciate the Scrupulous Son’s favor.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO EXPERIENCE THE PRODIGAL SON’S FAILURE IN ORDER TO APPRECIATE THE SCRUPULOUS SON’S FAVOR!
Bring it home…
Relate this to HushAndDo, please? Sure! You do not necessarily have to experience the popular business/success story of being down and out, having nothing, being at rock bottom and nowhere to turn IN ORDER TO bounce back and achieve your goals and success. NO! It doesn’t HAVE to be that way. COULD it be? CAN it be? Yes! But it does not mean it has to happen like that. Furthermore, I don’t want you to feel that your success and achievements are inauthentic because a plethora of rainy days and dry seasons didn’t birth them. It will happen this way for some, but it doesn’t mean it has to happen this way for all. I can look at those stories and hear about them and appreciate what I have without having to experience all that. I can learn from other’s shortcomings and failures and strive to be better. Some say that experience is the greatest teacher. I disagree. Experience is the most expensive and costly teacher. Let wisdom teach you alongside with experience. I don’t disagree that bad days and bad times can help us appreciate good days and good times. However, I don’t accept that my appreciation for good days and good times directly correlates to me experiencing bad days and bad times.
I invite you to consider how fortunate and blessed you are, being the Scrupulous daughters and sons, who never left.