“He went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.” (Luke 15:15-16)
The story of the Lost Son is a fascinating one. What got me thinking the other day is the scene where the son hit rock bottom. I’m sure he didn’t wake up one day, thinking, “one day I would love to feed pigs! I want to live on a pig’s diet!” Never in his worst nightmares did he envision himself in such a position. So then how did he get there? There are various steps we can observe:
First, he essentially told his dad that he knew better, that he wasn’t going to live according to his father’s rules, and that he didn’t want to wait for his father’s death to get his inheritance but have it all now.
Secondly, he proceeded to have fun and “live the life”. He became extremely wrapped up in self-indulgence. Instant gratification was his motto.
Thirdly, he misplaced his love and affections. He rejected a healthy loving relationship with his father, and instead spent his days with prostitutes, feeding his sinful desires.
And then tragedy struck! Suddenly, the son found himself penniless, friendless, homeless, jobless, and hungry. Still refusing to go back home, he stooped even lower and got himself hired as a pig herder – something any respectable Jew would never consider!
How does this relate to us? We may think that we don’t live wildly and irresponsibly, we don’t commit sins like the son did. And that may be so. But remember the first sin he committed: He did not want to submit to the authority of his father, and that rebellious act got him sliding down right into the muck of the pigpen.
Are there any areas in our lives where we tell our heavenly Father we know better? Do we refuse to let Him have authority over parts of our lives, our thoughts, our habits, and our hobbies? Are we holding tight to our treasures, our selfish desires, and our hunger for significance? They may be subtle inclinations of our hearts and minds, but if not corrected and submitted to our Father, they can become pigpens of misery and heartache.
Do you recognize any “pigs” in your life that you keep feeding? Has your greed and desire to acquire more “stuff” led you to a level of living that you can’t possibly afford, and so you work countless hours, trying to earn more money to keep feeding this “pig”. Have you yielded to the lures of lust and find yourself now feeding this “pig” with addictive behaviours and sexual immorality? Maybe you feel the endless hunger for love, acceptance, power, or respect, and you will do anything to feed this “pig” and keep it alive. What about the need to be in control? That’s a big “pig” for many of us, and we will angrily bulldoze right over anyone and anything to maintain and feed it.
There are so many ways we can fall into the trap of feeding the pigs in our lives. In every case, we will end up finding ourselves lonely, miserable, ashamed, and worthless. But there is good news! The story doesn’t end there! Just as the son in Jesus’ parable came to his senses and went back to his father, we too can turn around and return to our Father. Our Father is longing to receive us back, to shower His love on us, to forgive us. He will not shame us or make us pay off our debt. He is only looking for a broken spirit and true repentance, and “He will restore to us the joy of His salvation”. (Psalm 51)
Let’s “come to our senses” and submit to our Father in every area of our lives. He wants our lives to be properly aligned with His purposes because He knows that is best for us. Let’s trust Him and yield to His love and care, and He will help us chase away the “pigs” we have been feeding in our lives.