“When [the prodigal son] was still a long way off, his father saw him.” Luke 15:20 (MSG)
There is a great parenting lesson in the story of the prodigal son that I’ve always tried to take to heart. My own experience as a dad leads me to believe that the prodigal’s father had a strong suspicion what his son was going to do when he left home. Parents aren’t nearly as clueless as teenagers and young adults tend to believe.
Nevertheless, the prodigal’s father let his son go off to the distant country. He did not try to keep his son home. He did not run after his son to find him and drag him back home. He did not try to rescue his son and diminish the consequences of the young man’s mistakes.
This does not, however, mean that the father was uncaring or unconcerned. To the contrary, the father saw his son returning home while he was still far off. This means the father must have had his eye on the road. He was consciously watching, waiting, and I have to believe praying for his son’s safe return. He was simply wise enough to know that sometimes the best thing a parent can do for their children is to let them fail and experience the consequences of their own actions.
Today, I think back on a host of my own sinful words and actions. I have been the prodigal. While I regret the pain I caused others, I value the lessons learned from my mistakes.
God, grant me the wisdom to know when to hold on, and when to let go.