“You can’t always get what you want”
… at least, that’s what the Rolling Stones sang! But sometimes you might get what you want, only to find out that it doesn’t give you the satisfaction you were hoping for.
The story was told of a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there he squandered his wealth in wild living.
After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a farmer, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I’ll set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
This story, which Jesus told nearly 2,000 years ago, is often called the ‘parable of the lost son’.1 It shows Jesus’ great insight into human nature. The younger son got what he wanted; but the money, parties and self-centred living left him empty and desperate. He was lost and far from home.
Many people today are just as lost, just as desperate, just as empty. Maybe you are? Maybe you have got many of the things that you want out of life? But sooner or later you’ll find that money and pleasures can’t truly satisfy. Nor can they bring you peace in times of crisis, nor when you eventually face death.
The ‘lost son’ had to hit rock-bottom before he came to his senses. But when he did, he turned away from all his wrongdoing and returned to his father. He didn’t go demanding to be taken back – because of his ‘sin’ he had no right to any favour. He simply confessed and asked for mercy.
We have all treated God with the same contempt with which this son treated his father. But God was filled with compassion for us. He gave his own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to take the punishment we deserve for our sin:
‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ 2
If you turn to God, sincerely confessing your sin; and ask for mercy, trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you will receive forgiveness of your sins, new life, and an amazing welcome into the family of God.
1 You can find it in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 15, verses 11-32.
2 From the New Testament book of Romans, chapter 5, verse 8.