“And he arose, and came to his father.  But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  And the son said unto him, Father, I  have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.  But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.”  (Luke 15:20-22)
       This is the familiar story of the “prodigal son.”  Countless thousands of sermons have been preached on this subject from every angle possible by multiplied thousands of pastors and preachers around the world.  It still remains a very popular message, primarily because of the human connection that most everyone can identify with in one way or another.  It is a very touching story.
  The son in the story portrays children (male and female) in too many families that reach an age wherein they conclude that it is time for them to leave the nest and explore the world on their own without any parental supervision.  This boy obviously had allowed his father to keep a rather large portion of his earnings through the years and now he was demanding his portion.  The term “prodigal” comes from a portion of the scripture in Luke 15:13, “...and there wasted his substance with riotous living.”  Thus the word “prodigal” is taken from the word “wasted,” i.e., he was a wasteful son.
      What was it that caused the prodigal to leave home to begin with?  I believe it was that age old thing that is built into every person and it is a stronger urge in some, more than others, which is curiosity.  Curiosity is the overwhelming desire to know, and in order to know, we feel we must experience a matter.  Perhaps, it is because of stories we have heard that seemed to be exciting and adventuresome.  As is usually the case, curiosity leads to calamity.  The calamity came because of the carelessness of the prodigal.  He wasted his substance with riotous (shamelessly immoral, extremely wasteful, unrestrained) living, and he began to be in want.  Not too many folks who want unrestrained fun in their lives are very careful.  They simply want to have what they think is fun.  No wonder calamity came into the prodigal’s life, everything he assumed that would be exciting and fun had turned out to be empty and foolish.
     This prodigal obviously had been taught well by his father, because of the fact that he woke up one day, i.e., “And when he came to himself...” (Luke 15:17a).  He made a choice based on the character that had been instilled into him as a child.  Rather than wallow in self pity and defeat, he decided to go back home, totally different from how he had departed.  The sad thing about most prodigals is that they have little or no character, therefore, the longer they stay in the world the deeper they fall into sin and a shameful lifestyle.  Most are too ashamed to go home and face the music.
   While curiosity caused the son to leave home and character influenced his decision to return, did he really know what he was going home to?  I believe he knew his father would allow him to return, but this time as a servant, a hired hand.  Little did he know the father’s reaction to his return would be with compassion as he welcomed him home again.  It is obvious the father missed his son dearly.  When the son left home, the father was forlorn and concerned for his son’s future.  The boy was laughing, the dad was crying.  Now the sad son had come home, making his father a glad dad!  
      Are you away from your heavenly Father today?  Don’t you know that He loves you and wants you to come home again?  He misses the fellowship He shared with you in the past.  Come on home today!
                                                                                                                                               Pastor H. Preston Parker