He was the youngest son of his father; born and brought up in a comfortable way because his father was rich. He had everything he needed including servants to attend to him. But he became tired and uncomfortable in his father’s house. His desire for independence and freedom got the better part of him. He went to his father and asked for a portion of his inheritance. His father did not object, he fulfilled his son’s wish. The moment he got his part of inheritance, he left home to pursue the kind of life he wanted. He went to a far off country and wasted all his wealth with friends and pleasures of the world. It was only a matter of time before he was left empty handed as if he had been robbed.
All those he called friends deserted him when he needed them most. His life was reduced to nothing and he realised that life was not actually a bed of roses as things kept on getting worse. He began living in abject poverty – living and eating with pigs. One day it dawned on him that he still had a father, and a rich one for that matter. So he decided to return home.
When he reached, he got more than he had anticipated. His father was so happy to receive his long lost son back. It did not matter to him that he came home empty handed even though he had departed with a lot of money. He called for a celebration and restored this young man to his rightful position of a son, not a slave.
Many are times we become restless in our Father’s presence and unknowingly or knowingly wander off and move out. This always leads us to the world which is a very undesirable place for a person who is used to living in the presence of God. The world often looks admirable, fun and a pleasurable place to be, but the moment we step out and settle there, things take a turn for the worst. There are so many things that seduce us out of His presence and the most obvious one is independence. Someone who is independent is free from control; not depending on another’s authority; not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence; not connected with another or with each other; separate.
This, believe it or not, is what troubles most of us. Every one of us needs freedom because we want to do whatever we want without being questioned, make our own decisions without consulting and live our lives the way we want without anybody bothering us. Yet in our quest for independence, we fall into another world of struggle, toil and constant lack.
We were not created for this kind of life. God created us to live in abundance. When He created the first man Adam, He placed him in the Garden of Eden where He had planted all kinds of fruit trees. Whatever Adam needed was in the Garden of Eden, he did not have to work for anything. His work was to take care of the Garden. Apart from the provision, the presence of God dwelt in great intensity. Adam and God were great buddies. Their relationship was tight. In other words, the fellowship between God and Adam was intimate, flowing, unbroken and unhindered. Everything was in harmony until the enemy came in and messed up everything.
The man was at liberty and he had a choice not to listen to the snake, but he did anyway. The fellowship broke. This was brought about by a desire for one thing – independence. It landed man to the life of struggle, toil and lack. God did not create man to be independent, but to be depended on Him. This is the order of God and once it is tampered with, every other thing falls apart. For man to depend on God, he must live in His presence. Living in God’s presence means fellowshipping with Him.
The kind of fellowship involved here is not the casual one; it’s the deep, unhindered and unbroken fellowship where man is in sync with his maker. Being in sync with our maker means deeply connected with our God. It is only in this state where we can experience the fullness of God. We cannot expect to have it all with our God when we keep falling in and out of fellowship with Him. If we must live a life of abundance, God must take His rightful position in our lives.
The good news is that, even though the fellowship was broken in the beginning, Jesus came to restore it back. So whoever is in Christ Jesus must strive to remain in the presence of God. It is the greatest labour of a believer. Just like in the story of the prodigal son, life outside the presence of God is meaningless, stressful, frustrating and unfulfilling. We all need to come back to our senses and go back to our Father who will not deny us but accept us as we are; who will not condemn us but justify us; who will not bother about how messed up we are but restore us back to our rightful positions as His children.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned (John 15:5-6) NIV