Wednesday, August 17

Defining words: Prodigal

One website that I visit on a somewhat regular basis (once a month, approx), is I am a bit "attentive" about spelling words correctly and so will often go there to check spelling. Or sometimes I go there to see what a word means, mainly so that I don't use it incorrectly.

**Side note: I often think of the scene in the wonderfully clever movie The Princess Bride, when Vizzini says "Inconceivable!" one too many times and Inigo Montoya responds with "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Yesterday, I looked up the word "prodigal." Not sure why...I guess the story of the "prodigal son" came to mind and I wondered, after hearing that word for years and years, what it truly meant.

**Another side note: all of this seems very familiar to this may all be very similar to something that was recently published that I may have read (Francis Chan, maybe?). I'm not trying to steal anyone's thunder...not that anything I say would be new under the sun. Moving on...

Anyhow, the word Prodigal!

It's an adjective, meaning:

  1. wastefully or recklessly extravagant: prodigal expenditure.
  2. giving or yielding profusely; lavish (usually followed by of or with ): prodigal of smiles; prodigal with money.
  3. lavishly abundant; profuse: nature's prodigal resources.
Recklessly extravagant! Giving profusely! Lavish! Abundant!

So back to the story of the prodigal son, in Luke 15:11-32. Yes, the son was certainly a prodigal...the very inheritance that the father gave to the son, was recklessly and wastefully given away. The passage doesn't say how long it took the son to squander the wealth that he had. But it is apparent that his inheritance meant nothing to him outside of gratifying his immediate desires.

But we also see a prodigal father. In the face of his youngest son's demands for the inheritance, the father still gives. And when the son returns, penniless and oh-so-needy, the father runs to the son and welcomes him back freely and wholly. The father lavishes love and forgiveness on his son, offers his son a robe, sandals and a ring, and a party with choice meats. No conditions, no contracts, no hesitation. The father gave again and again to this immature and reckless son. A son that didn't earn or deserve anything.

The story of the prodigal son is just a story...a parable told by Jesus, that reflects some amazing and humbling truths. I am the wasteful, reckless, immature, and undeserving son. I often demand my own way, do whatever pleases me and then in humility, crawl back to God asking for His help. God is the extravagant and lavishing Father, who loves with a reckless abandon. He gives freely and wholly, continually offering love, redemption and forgiveness, to all who ask.

The makings of a wonderful love story.


Kaye said...

oooh good find Mindy!
I was actually wondering what prodigal meant the other day, but was not near a dictionary so I promptly forgot.
I like the way you've described the father as prodigal too!

Mindy said...

I was surprised and then excited over discovering the meaning, myself. :)