By, Kimberly Coombes
Stuff! Right now most of us are surrounded by stuff: boxes, bows, wrapping paper, and cardboard – oh, so much cardboard. We are suffering from overflowing trash cans, overstocked refrigerators, and overstuffed bellies. And for some of us the festivities aren’t over yet; there’s still one more celebration, one more party to attend, one more guest to arrive.
As we sit, surrounded by so much good, so much joy, so much grace; let’s guard our hearts from the weakness of the Prodigal, who boldly states, “Give me all of your stuff without any of you.”
You see, the Prodigal found himself surrounded by an overflow of people and goods. Luke 15 shares the story of a boy surrounded by so much stuff, stuff that would actually be his for the taking one day, but he couldn’t wait for one day to arrive; he wanted it all now.
Scripture tells us that he asked to be given his inheritance now. He didn’t have time to wait around for dad to die. So, he basically tells dad that he wishes for his demise, and since that isn’t happening fast enough, let’s just pretend, so I can get what’s coming to me.
Verse 13 tell us, “And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country.” The Prodigal couldn’t leave fast enough. When he looked at dad, his heart screamed, I have to get away from you.
The verse continues, “…There wasted his substance with riotous living.” In the end, because he didn’t value is father, he didn’t value what his father gave him. He squandered it!
You see, the heart of a gift is not the item itself, but the person behind the item.
How undesirable is a gift from someone who dislikes you or wishes you ill. This gift becomes completely meaningless because there is no heart or connection behind it. Even worse, a gift without heart can appear to be a threat, causing us to question, “What did they mean by this? Can I trust them?”
Part of the joy of gift giving is watching the recipient enjoy the gift, because you then receive joy from their joy. How heartbreaking to give to someone who only wants what you can do for them, but wants nothing to do with you.
Sometimes I fear that we have the heart of the Prodigal in our relationship with God. Do we harbor an, “All your stuff, without any of You, God,” mentality?
Do we tell God, “Bless me, help me, do this, fix that;” yet we don’t want Him, not His Word, not His people, not His house? Have we grabbed the gift and forgotten the Giver?
Before all of the holiday stuff gets packed away, before the gifts are tucked into their new homes, maybe we should use this visual overflow of stuff to help redirect our hearts. Can we stop and account for all of the good God has given to us? Can we count blessing after blessing, and make sure we are holding onto the Giver much tighter than we hold the gifts? The Prodigal squandered it all before he returned to cling to the father, may we hold the Father and enjoy the gifts, keeping each in their proper place.