Watching and Waiting

During Lent I read Henri Nouwen’s From Fear to Love: Lenten Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. As a result I’m thinking about the story in new ways and reading it in different versions of the Bible.

I enjoy reading a variety of Bible translations because it gives a different perspective and an opportunity for deeper thought and reflection. That’s what happened when I read the story of the lost son in The Message. A particular word stuck out to me in these verses.

“So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had.”

Luke 15:12 The Message

I thought the word dissipated was odd here. I think of weather and clouds and precipitation when I read the word dissipated. As in – the clouds dissipated and the sun came out. I didn’t know the word also means to be unrestrained, especially in the pursuit of pleasure.

But Actually

Actually the way the word is defined when it comes to clouds describes the son who leaves his father with his inheritance. Dissipate means to scatter or disperse, to become less and less, gradually disappear or fade away. The son left his home, left his family and all he’d known, to live another kind of life. A life which broke and scattered his own heart.

Henri Nouwen writes this in his reflections: “The deepest suffering of the prodigal son was being adrift and separated from the source of his life. From home the father, always watching, and waiting, continued to offer love and life, but he would never force his son to receive his love.”

The son became less and less and his life gradually faded away. Perhaps it was the fading of his ego which led him to the flash of insight and brought him to his senses. It was a painful and courageous journey to face reality, to own his choices, and see the truth of his life.

I Still Belong

Nouwen continues, “The prodigal son’s return begins at the moment he realizes that he has lost everything but the most important thing. What finally allows him to return is his awareness of the one thing that remains. ‘I’m still the child of my father. I still belong to someone.'”

He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.

Luke 15:17-20 The Message

Our journey with God is one where we come to our senses over and over again. We leave home in a thousand different ways, then remember the most important thing. We are His and we are loved.

Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

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  1. Bruce Martin on April 26, 2024 at 10:53 am

    Love this!

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