When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!" Luke 15:17 NIV
I wake up to the blessing of a snow day, and reach to check for messages on my phone. I run across an article, and after reading just a couple of paragraphs I am struck by a truth. I cannot finish reading the article because I lay there almost paralyzed by its words. How does a person become so out of touch with everything and everyone around you that you forget the things or people who are most important? I know how that happens. You settle for the pigsty.
As a firstborn, I have never cared much for the story of the Prodigal Son because I understand how the brother felt. However, today I find myself identifying with the Prodigal himself. In Luke 15, the prodigal finds himself in a place where he is not happy, but must stay in order to survive...or so he thinks. Every morning he awakens only to realize that it is simply another day when he must go and work among the pigs.
Being forced to a level where he had to work with pigs was humiliating for this young man. Not only are pigs filthy animals who find pleasure in wallowing in their own feces mixed with mud, but he was a Jew and pigs to them were unclean in a religious sense as well. This young man who once experienced the luxury of living in his father's house, now found himself so hungry that he would have welcomed the chance to eat the slop alongside the pigs in an attempt to satisfy his hunger. The Bible doesn't say how long he remained in this state, but it is clear to say that one day he came to himself. One day he came to his senses and realized that there was a better life outside the pigsty.
This morning I came to myself. I realized that not unlike the Prodigal, I too am experiencing life in the pigsty. I have at some point accepted that existing in the pigsty is the only way I can survive. I have grown accustomed to life among pigs. Rather than avoid the muck and the smell, I find myself climbing daily into the pen with the pigs, mired up in feces and mud, and breathing in the scent of their filth. Day in and day out, I continue to live in this existence.
And then just as the ProdiIgal, I remember my Father. I remember what my life used to look like when I lived in His house. I remember what it was like to hear laughter and see a table filled with nutritious food. I remember what it was to be happy...I remember joy. I see myself deep in this mire, surrounded by pigs covered in layers and layers of dried feces and mud, and I remember that if I could just see my Father then life could be better.
And so I start the struggle of climbing out of the pigsty, gently raising my feet one step at a time from the mire in order to make my way to the fence. I had failed to notice just how far into the muck I had allowed myself to venture. The distance to the fence can seem so far that you almost decide it might be easier to stay with the pigs. But I cannot continue to stay here in the pigsty because I am hungry. I have grown so hungry that I was almost willing to eat the slop alongside the pigs. But this hunger cannot be satisfied with slop, this hunger can only be filled at the table of my Father.
And so I make my way out of the pigsty. I am on my way to feast at my Father's table. I know that the blessings awaiting me are more than I could imagine and that He is waiting. He has so much more planned for me than to toil among the pigs. I have waited much too long to partake of the blessings from His table, but I am on my way.