All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!
Luke 15:29-30, NLT*
Can’t you hear the bitterness in the older brother’s voice as he accuses his father? (If you’re unfamiliar with the story of the prodigal son, you can read it here: Luke 15:11-32)
Squandering… that’s exactly what the younger brother did with his share of the inheritance, advanced to him by his still-living father.
But the father had divided his estate between the two sons, and I think the older one was squandering his share too. Just in a different way. Because he didn’t realize it was his.
He hadn’t received it.
Have we, as Christians, fully received the inheritance that God gave us when He saved us? I’m not talking about the treasures we’re called to be storing up in Heaven, but those things we forget to notice, or don’t fully believe are ours.
The promises that are already ours: forgiveness, abundant life, the fruit of the Spirit that will grow as we work out our salvation: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT*)
The little gifts in each day: sunbeams (or fat, gorgeous snowflakes), a loved one’s smile, the perfect parking spot when late, a cup of tea steeped just right?
The wealth of God’s presence with us in the now.
Squandering our inheritance… it’s the same thing whether we misuse it or fail to receive it.
I haven’t run away like the younger son, but in some ways I’m like the elder one, “in the house, but not home.” I want to be home – engaged with God’s presence, relying on Him and receiving all He has for me.
It’s a simple matter of turning to God – returning to Him even if we’re not far away – repenting, in a sense. And it’s a lifetime to master the constant turning that keeps us close to Him when our natural bent is to slip away. For encouraging insights, I recommend Janice Dick’s first-Tuesday-of-the-month series of conversations about Brother Lawrence’s book, The Practice of the Presence of God. (Here’s the link to the first post: Satisfied by God)
Lord Jesus, You know how many days I just push through, head down, missing the tangible gifts You’ve strewn across my path and the more valuable spiritual gifts I need only stop and receive. I’m helpless to live the abundant life on my own, and that’s how You designed it. Teach me to be mindful of Your presence and my need, whether I’m quiet before You or attending daily duties. Open my eyes to see, ears to hear, and heart to receive all that You have for me.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.