It has always been tough to be a young person growing up. And it has always been tough to be a parent and raise children into adults. Consider these quotes:
"I see no hope for the future for people if they are dependent on the frivilous youth of today. For certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wild and impatient." (Greek poet Hesiod)
"Youth today love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, no respect for older people, and talk nonsense when they should work. Young people do not stand up any longer when adults enter a room. They contradict their parents, talk too much in company, guzzle their food, lay their legs on the table, and tyrannize their elders." (Socrates)
"The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents of old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they know everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behavior, and dress." (Peter the Hermit AD 1274)
(These quotes are courtesy of Dr. Vernon Grounds)
It has never been easy to be a parent or a young person. Today we will look at the life of a young man and his father, the struggles they faced, and the lessons they learned.
Turn with me to Luke 15:11-24
Lesson #1- We must learn the value of unconditional love. The father loved the son unconditionally so he let him go with his share of the inheritance. He loved him unconditionally, so he let him come back after falling flat on his face.
Unconditional love is something we find very difficult to understand. We live in a society that says, love me and then I will love you. Do for me and then I will do for you. We haven’t been taught to love someone simply because they are God’s creation.
John 3:16 tells how God loves us unconditionally. He loves us so much He gave His Son. No matter what kind of car we drive in, no matter what kind of house we have, no matter what color we are, no matter how many times we have failed him, he still loves us with an everlasting love.
Lesson #2 There are no Lone Rangers.
We cannot make it on our own. Why did the son decide to leave home? He wanted to set off on his own and prove that he could make it alone. All of us have felt that desire before. He perhaps wanted to prove to his other brother, his father, his friends that he could succeed on his own. The truth is that it is a hard world and we cannot make it out there alone.
We need each other, that is why it says so many times in the scriptures "one another."
Love one another.
Forgive one another.
Build one another up.
Bear one another’s burdens.
Too many people, and Christians for that matter are trying to get through life without the help and support of others.
When the prodigal son got into the world he realized he could not make it on his own.
Lesson #3 Failure can be a great teacher.
We live in a society that does not accept failure. The pressure is always on to be a winner. And yet I have heard great leader after leader say they have learned more from their failures than their successes. I think about the great inventors and how many times they must have failed before they finally got it right.
Charlie Lubin made great cheesecake. In fact it was so good he decided to open a cheesecake store, which he did on the north side of Chicago. It went so well that he opened a second store in South Chicago. That store did not do so well and eventually he lost both stores as a result. He sat in his room one night and while eating his cheesecake, thought "This is good cheesecake!" So he eventually opened his original store again. After a while he opened another store which did not do so well and he once again lost both stores.
A few months later, while eating his cheesecake he said to himself "This is good cheesecake!" And so he opened hs original sotre again. But after opening a second store, he went bankrupt again. This happened a fourth time.
Months later, Charlie sat in his house eating his cheesecake and thought to himself again "This is good cheesecake!" And so he decided to open another store, only this time he would name his cheesecakes after his daughter, Sara Lee. It became the largest bakery in the world.(Illustrations, Stories and Quotes- Jim Burns and Greg Mckinnon)
We need to learn from our failures. We need to encourage our children to strive for success, but when they fail, we need to show them how they can learn from it. The prodigal son failed. but his father was waiting with arms open wide.
No matter how many times we fail, God teaches us lessons through it, helps us back up, and continues to love us.
Lesson #4- It is never too late to go home.
It has been said, "You can never go home." I think a lesson we need to learn is that "It is never too late to go home." How hard must it have been for the son to go home. He had to swallow his pride. He had to face his father and tell him he has lost it all. He had to face his brother, his friends, how difficult it had to be.
There is a story told about a father and his teenage son. They had strained relationshiip, so much so that the young man finally ran away from home. Immediately the father began a journey across Spain in search of his rebellious young son. Finally after months and months of searching, he arrived in Madrid. In a last desperate effort to find his son, the father went down to the newspaper office and put an ad in the newspaper.
It simply said "Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father."
The next day at noon in front of the newspaper office, 800 Pacos showed up seeking forgiveness.
It is never too late to go home. .(Illustrations, Stories and Quotes- Jim Burns and Greg Mckinnon)
The story of the prodigal son is one with a happy ending. The son is greeted with open arms, a great celebration. Joy and love. That is what God wants for our lives.
We need to apply these lessons to our lives as we allow God to work in us making the children he wants us to be.