Read Luke 15:11-16
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. (NLT)
The search for human freedom is elusive. Nations throw out one ruler only to be misruled by another one. Partners leave another in order to find something or someone better and things don’t get any better. We change jobs and still succumb to boredom or frustration.
In this familiar story, a young man decided that freedom meant leaving home. He found out that freedom from parental control and discipline led to bondage to poverty, hunger and homesickness. He gained his independence but in doing so did not gain his freedom. There was no green grass beyond his home: only the stinking mud of foul pigsties.
So it is a tale of sadness for this deluded young man. But consider also the sadness of the father. He is like so many parents who can only watch and weep as their children make wrong decisions, knowing that love for their children does not mean control over them.
Of course we know this is a parable of our wandering from God our father. We mistakenly think that getting away from him is the key to real life. And our Father in heaven allows us to journey to the pigsties of our own far countries. He allows us to taste the bitter fruits of our wilful decisions.
To be free of God is to be free only in the sense that a ship without rudder and compass is free. It is the warped freedom to drift and be shipwrecked. True freedom is not independence, but being the people our Maker has made us to be.