“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! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ (NLT)
There is only one thing worse than making a serious mistake. And that is not learning from it and seeking to correct the error. The prodigal son went badly wrong when he journeyed to the far country in search of greener grass. He only found pigsty mud.
But he realised the folly of his ways. His longed for freedom had become captivity, he had discovered the futility of his fatherless life. He decided to turn back for home. There had to be a better way to live. Which is something like what the Bible calls “repentance”. It describes a change of mind leading to an active change of direction.
Even some followers of Jesus get ensnared by the seductive appeal of life in the far country. Servant like devotion to the Father is not for them. But they can’t escape that easily. The Spirit of God nudges and shakes and shatters so that we come to see the dead end nature of life in the far country.
We need to realise that and decide to come home. And sometimes we only come to that realisation when we hit rock bottom. Repentance is never painless. It involves our facing our lostness and tasting some of the consequences of going the wrong way. But in the words of the old hymn, “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling O sinner come home.”