You would enjoy them, I think. George and Martha are intelligent, lively, full of laughter and comfortable with themselves. Companionable in marriage, but outward-focused so that others are encompassed by their love rather than made to feel intruders on a private thing. The most mundane aspects of business and home become celebrations of God’s goodness when George and Martha are around. Whether things are calm or crazy, these two radiate inner stillness so that in all parts of their life and business generosity and compassion ripple out.
Martha—well, she’s a tad counter-culture, dressing softly with a glimmer of makeup. She exudes the artistry and fun of it. She and George both love the countryside. Their house rings with conversation and laughter as others find rest, safety and shelter there. Though life and home are ever full, George and Martha always seem to have time to listen, to make place, to pray.
These two have suffered much pain and prayer over both of their children. Though onlookers question their prodigal generosity, George and Martha are not fools, nor are they sentimental. They see both Grace and Hazel for who they are: immature, greedy, competitive, lustful, foolish and lost. It’s a place of great weariness, of restlessness—overwhelming at times with the sadness that neither child shares their vision or wants to grow to be like them and to grow to take their place.
As Grace returns home, and as Hazel is forced to confront her shallow understanding of the love and gift it is to be a child of this family, parenting has also become a place of fresh hope.
The Prodigal Story is a Kingdom image. Even as they take and waste their parents’ prodigal generosity, neither child perceives what it means to be a child and heir—the call and the potential to one day step into their place. Neither child desires to be like the parents. And so BOTH the older and the younger miss tremendous blessing, and the whole community suffers loss.
God, as our Father, invites us to grow up into His likeness, to become increasingly worthy partners through ever greater appropriation of His endless love and resources. These resources, He says, are already ours, but we:
• see them as scarce
• see them as insufficient
• see the Father’s ways as foolish and wasteful
• see the Father’s priorities as boring
• think our own agendas and plans are better
• compete with and judge our siblings
• dwell in fear of loss
• can’t wait until the Father releases His grip and lets us own in it all and run things our way
• miss the whole point of our adoption as heirs, that is, that children are to grow up into the character and responsibilities of worthy parents.
Again, let me invite you to spend time with this parent Jesus describes in Luke 15. What does it mean to you to be a child and an heir of this Person? By your choices, actions and responses—your treatment of His love and bounty--what role have you cast Him in?
I wonder what He will say to you through this story as you contemplate Him.