Here is a modern version of an old story that you all should know. It is one I have lived. There once were two brothers who lived in a mansion. Whatever there was to be had, they had it. They were the first to get the newest video games, the newest iPhones, the latest Macbook Air, iPads, and a Ferrari in the high school parking lot. They had it all.
One day, the younger son got to wondering how much money his dad really had. He began to imagine what he could do with his half of everything his father had. He knew that when his dad died he would end up with half of the family money. So he got to thinking, “Maybe, I could get it now. It’s mine anyway, so I should have it when I want it.”
So, the younger son went to see his dad. He angrily told his father: “I know that when you die a I will get half of your money. I know that you only give me a little of what is truly mine because you hate me and don’t want me to have all the stuff and fun that I should have by right. So, I want it now and not when you die.”
The father was both shocked and amazed at his son’s greed and hatred, but he agreed. After going to the bank and getting some things together, the father reluctantly gave his son his half. This caused the father not just financial hardship but also personal pain and loss over the son who had abandoned him.
The son immediately took off and began living the high life. He built himself a huge house, bought many cars, and gained many “friends.” He became a celebrity just because of his wealth and the crazy ways that he spent it. When MTV’s “Cribs” showed up at his door, the son knew that he had made it big. The life to which he was entitled had finally become his, but like many overnight celebrities, the son’s empire soon came crashing down. He had spent money so quickly that he had lost count of it. His credit cards were maxed and his house was full of stuff—much of which had never even been opened. The bank foreclosed on his house and took all of his cars. The young man went through bankruptcy, and since he had never finished high school or gone to college, he didn’t know how to do anything. He now found himself out on the streets as a homeless man with nothing but the clothes on his back. His “friends” had left him quickly for others with money. He tried to get a job but with no schooling and no trade there were no jobs to be found except that of a garbage man.
The son now found himself doing the smelliest, nastiest job that he could have ever imagined. He didn’t make enough for a place to live or regular meals. He began to scrummage through the bags for random half eaten fruits and every once in a while some week-old leftovers.
His dream of riches, fame, and popularity had quickly turned into a situation that was so bad he could not have even imagined it. He realized that his life had become this way because of his hatred and rebellion against his father. He began to see the brokenness in his life and to mourn. He knew that he had been a horrible son and that he had treated his father in a very hurtful and mean way.
The broken and hungry young man wondered what life was like at home. He could imagine his older brother sitting around the table with his mom and dad having a warm home-cooked dinner. He began to be able to taste the flavor of the cookies that his mom used to make him. He began to long for home. He doubted if he could ever go back to the table as a part of the family again, but maybe, they would give him the leftovers before they hit the trash.
He decided to drag himself home to see if there was any hope of some leftovers. He quit his job and walked to the interstate and stuck out his thumb towards home. Through the kindness of several truckers, he hitchhiked his way back to his hometown. He walked from the interstate exit near his house to his old neighborhood. After convincing the gatekeeper to the neighborhood that he was not a criminal, he began to make his way down the familiar streets.
He walked to where he could see the big tree in the front yard that he and his brother used to play in as children towering in its place at the end of the cul-de-sac. The house slowly came into view. The son’s legs felt like they were about to snap in two as he got closer to the house. Part of him wanted to stop and rest but he knew that he had to know what would happen. As the son got closer to the house, he saw his dad in his usual chair in front of the big screen TV in the living room. Just as he glanced into the window, his dad looked up from the TV and caught a glimpse of his son. The father immediately got up from his chair. The son was sure that his father was going to grab the phone and call the cops. But before these thoughts could finish running through the son’s head, the front door swung open. His father, with arms wide open, ran out to hug his son. The angry, greedy, and now poverty stricken son had returned and found that his father was there to love him and welcome him back into the family even before he could get out the words “I am so sorry.”