The first time I heard the story, I was probably five or six (Baby Boomer here). I didn’t understand the point of the story. My sympathy was with the son who had done the right thing all along but secretly, I wanted to be the prodigal who got to squander money and live wild and be forgiven at the end. I’d be very surprised to find I am the only one who thought this way – but hey, maybe. (Shrug). I guess I really thought that God loved the prodigal more. And I wanted God to love me more than you (or you, or you – pointing). All my life, people always thought I was smarter than them – It always mystified me – but none-the-less, I always basked in their admiration and tried to encourage that view. (Stupid smile). I DO sometimes have brilliant 20/20 hindsight. (Polishes nails on chest). As I grew older, tossing away, negligently, the many blessings God continued to heap on me, I continued to view the story with increasing disdain. (Ah, the cleverness of me!) My only excuse is that I tend to be literal (Sighs). I don’t remember what caused me to rethink that story. It was probably when I began to think that God loved me less than he used to, with good reason (guilty smile). I thought of myself as one who was “enlightened” and yet I stole things once in a while. I told people, sincerely, what an honest person I was and then bragged, in the same breath what a good liar I could be, if I wanted. (Rolls eyes to God and shakes head). At my worst point, God showed me he loved me still (in my judgment, totally undeserved) and he led me to reread the prodigal son. We are all that prodigal and God does not love me more than you – we cannot “earn” his love and therefore we can NEVER lose it. It is his true lovingness and legacy to mankind. To believe otherwise is to believe the greatest lie ever told. It’s a terrible metaphor (Don’t shoot the limited of imagination) but what if God were a cancer patient and we were the tumor in his left leg. Wouldn’t you slay the fatted calf, if it healed? The right leg should rejoice too because it’s hard to stand on one leg. If God rejoices in each cell that turns non-cancerous, shouldn’t we? If he wants to keep every single cell, if he loves every single cell, if those cells love him back, they will indeed heal. In my terrible metaphor, you do not see the saintly right leg happy to see the left leg go (You’re going to hell and I am not, nah nah nah nah nah.). God is personal. No proselytizing and beating someone over the head with your story/proof will do it for someone else. Each person or cell must ask for the proof that he is part of God. The hardest part is listening, sincerely for the answer. Take my word for it, it comes fast and furious and even the stupid (like me) can see it, if they truly want to know the answer. Each is sculpted to the asker, uniquely. Every once in a while, I have been privileged to see someone else’s answer, a brief glimpse of a miniscule, subatomic, thread of God’s design, in a far off corner and I am totally blown away with awe. I would never be able to think of such a perfection and I am glad that I am not the boss. I’m equally glad you aren’t either. Finally, I am glad that God loves you as much as me, no matter what we do or think. I don’t see this, anymore, as license to be prodigal and I am still a cell in the left leg but I pray now that God will fix me, undeserving as I am, and help me to the road of soul-health. Not only that, I pray that he helps you too. I realize that the prayer is selfish (halo disappears) because as part of the left leg, I don’t want to be cut away from God. That is the true description of hell – cut off from God’s light. So that’s how, in my humble estimation, the worst story in the Christian bible became my favorite. When I think of it, it reminds me that God loves me me Me me (okay, and you too) but me me me, unconditionally. What do you think?