Read Luke 15:17-20
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. (NLT)
There is only one thing worse than being on the wrong track: which is not realising you are on the wrong track. In this familiar story of the prodigal son, the young man has made a mess of his life. He made a terrible mistake by thinking independence from his father meant true freedom for him. But he didn’t make an even worse mistake by being blind to his error.
He turned for home. This text is a pretty clear description of repentance. It is a realisation that we have our backs turned to God and that we need to turn around and face up to our mistake and have a fresh start with God. It is an admission of failure that is the door to success. It is a recognition of brokenness that leads to healing. It is believing we are lost but yet can be found.
So it is both a dose of bitter medicine and the beginning of our getting better. It is not just remorse or sorrow. This young man could have stayed in the dirt of the pigsties and felt sorry for himself. But instead, he acted on his recognition of his lostness. He went back home.
And we need to note that he took such action because he believed there was a father waiting for him. And this is a description of faith, the companion of repentance. Repentance is a turning for home, faith is recognising there is a home to which to return.