I've read the story of the prodigal son my entire life, (forgotten? here it is) but it is very easy to focus on either the rebellion of the younger brother, or the compassion of the father toward him. Rarely do I stop and consider the older brother.
The younger brother has run away from home, squandered his inheritance on wine, women and song, and has come home. He is received with wild abandon by his father and the whole house is in full party mode when the older brother comes drudging back in from the fields. He hears the noise of the party and asks someone what is going on. When he finds out what's happened...
I'm struck with his response. "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."
I work, I slave, I never have any fun, and what do I get for it? Nuthin'. He sins, he lives in debauchery, he rebels, he makes one right choice - one - to come back home - and we're having a party!
The father's response? Basically - Why didn't you have a party? It's all yours! Party! Invite your friends over!
As I read it, it made me wonder how often I am unhappy because I have this older brother’s perspective on being a part of God’s Kingdom. I often find myself with the attitude that I am “slaving away” while the evil world gets to do anything they want with no apparent consequences. Instead of remembering, considering, that I am a blessed, accepted child of the King! All that is His, is mine.
I've seen it so often in my kids as they were growing up – they just couldn't see the blessing that being in a family is – even the blessing of working together toward a common goal – they could only focus on the work and perceive it as some sort of punishment. I bring on much of my discontent and unhappiness myself – not because of some overt sin, or because my life is truly some horrible set of circumstances, but because I've taken my eyes off of where I am (in the center of God's Kingdom) – off of whose I am – and I’m looking at the particular task before me as some slave labor job.
I've forgotten that I CAN have a party! I CAN invite all my friends over and celebrate! I SHOULD! He expects it - He rejoices in it.
I forget to rejoice.
Have you forgotten to occasionally stop and have a party?