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When the Prodigal Son Relapses

Almost five years to the day after he returned home the first time, the prodigal son emptied his bank account, packed a few changes of clothes, and snuck off for the faraway country. Again.

The first year back he was just glad to be home.

The second year was toughest; he still couldn’t get (rid of) … the shame that chewed away at his soul.

The third year, things leveled out a little. He started feeling more at home, back in synch with his former life.

The fourth year, certain things began to irk him. His old itches longed to be scratched.

And the fifth year, it happened. All the former allurements came knocking, rapping their knuckles on his heart’s front door.

And so the prodigal relapsed. Re-sinned. Re-destroyed his life.

You know him—or her. Maybe it’s your best friend. Maybe it's your child. Or maybe it’s you. That thing you swore you’d never do again, you did it last night. You left the straight and narrow. Prodigals have a way of finding themselves right back in the pigsty.

In that moment … heaven and hell contend within you. Hell shouts, “Now you’ve gone and done it. You stupid piece of garbage. You’re a lost, lonely, hopeless cause. You’re a pig. And that’s all you’ll ever be.”

But there is another voice. It’s the voice of heaven, the familiar lilt of a Dad’s voice, echoing down the long hallways of hope … down to the deepest, darkest caverns of your pain. He doesn’t accuse. He doesn’t berate. He only mouths two simple words … of heaven’s redemptive love: “Come Home.”

The second time, the third time, the thousandth time, he will sprint … to meet you down the street, throw his arms around you, kiss you, and command that the fattened calf be barbecued. The Father is standing on the porch, his hand shading the sun from his eyes, scanning the horizon for the familiar image of the one who will ever remain, his precious, beloved child. “Come home.”

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