The Prodigal's Wardrobe

So last week, I’m revisiting the prodigal son parable when it dawns on me:

Before there could be a party (v. 23), there had to be ‘fashion statement’ (v. 22)…because before the son could celebrate, he had to first know why he was being celebrated.

Not to suggest this was my first time visualizing the father decking his son with boughs of jolly; I’m just sayin’ in the past, I used to skim over this part as side detail.

The dad is happy his son is back; I get it,’ I’d think to myself.

But now, having marinated in this passage further, I can’t help but wonder if this excerpt is the most profound part of the entire story.

Because not does it highlight a daily reality of God’s father-heart of love, but it also emphasizes the progression of God’s ministry of reconciliation, which can be designated as:

1) God’s confirmation of our identity in Him --> 2) God’s admittance of ‘as we are’ in light of who we are in Him --> 3) God’s celebration of #1 + #2

You see…often times, we skip from #1 to #3 when reading the parable. We remember the father’s compassion (v. 20) and the party he throws (v. 23), yet we forget how the father loved on purpose in between as evidenced by his desire to adorn his son with specific garments…
  • …the robe representing a fresh outpouring of grace...
  • …the ring…a symbol of sonship and authority…
  • …the sandals…a charge for the son to walk afresh and anew (under both coverings)…
…pretty remarkable, right?

I mean…clearly, the father wasn’t content on just running to/embracing his son.

Was he overjoyed? Of course! Was he relieved? Absolutely.

However, as much as he wanted to welcome his son, he wanted even more so to initiate him back into a renewed sense of identity, place, and purpose.

Thus, it’s interesting when we pause and connect the parable to real life.

‘Cause truth is: we’re ALL prodigals. We’ve all stumbled into rough places…tough times. We’ve all had rude awakenings with our own depravity.

But when we apply the parable, we ultimately discover how the story doesn’t end with God forgiving us.

In fact…it’s only just begun!

Why? Because even in the wake of our setbacks, our Papa God never stops seeking a way to restore and re-establish us as heirs with an inheritance (Romans 8:17), as anointed children blessed with a destiny.

Not to mention...He always has a party invitation with your name on it secured in an envelope sealed with grace. And while you’re certainly not forced to open it, if you do decide to, you’ll not only find directions, but also info on how to get ready for it!

How freakin’ awesome is that?

So next time you’re tempted to mentally wallow with the pigs, remember God isn’t so easily satisfied to slap an “I forgive you” onto your wrongdoings, your past hurts and failures…and call it a day. No way!

Moreover, God wants to remind you…

…your identity is not lost...
…your place at the table is unclaimed…
…and oh, by the way, when you choose to change, heaven celebrates…and like a good neighbor, He’ll not only help you arrive at a better place, He’ll helps you stay there, too.

My encouragement to you is to claim the robe, the ring, and the sandals...put on the garments of praise (Isaiah 61:3)…and live knowing you’ve been fully reinstated into wholeness with God. It may not always be easy…there may be days when your self-perception seems hopelessly chained to dark, dreary memories, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a way to walk in your sonship!

For me, whenever I find myself in that taxing tug-of-war, I…
  • …confess I’ve been forgiven and set free…
  • …I declare my identity as a mighty man/son of God…
  • …and recommit my way unto the Lord. 
That way…I’m accepting and affirming God’s confirmation, admittance, and celebration of who I am…and ‘wallah’ God’s mission of reconciliation is complete in that moment.

Well, I’m out of words today. As always, if you need prayer, a word of encouragement, a dose of stimulating dialogue, I am here.

‘Til next time, stay thirsty, my friends…

~ Cameron

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