Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Willingness (02/21/05)
TITLE: Pigs Stink
By nancy rieke
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The younger son, let’s call him Bob, decides one day that life on the farm isn’t for him. It’s boring and he’s bored. He’s listened to the stories of travelers passing through and he’s learned that out there, beyond the crossroads of the drab little village he lives in, past his father’s summer pasture which is the farthest he’s ever been in his whole life, is excitement and adventure beyond his wildest dreams. Bob thinks about this, off and on for weeks and months and maybe years. He longs for the music he could be hearing, the laughter he should be sharing and the colors – oh the colors! He begins to detest his brown desert home and everyone in it. He feeds his discontent with real and imagined slights and with every passing day, the world beyond gets brighter and brighter.
One day he’s had enough. “Father,” he says. “I’m outa here. I can’t stand it any more! I’m not cut out for farming. I’m lousy at it, and I hate it. Please, give me my inheritance now so I can get away from here. Maybe I’ll be a merchant, or a sailor, or an artist. I don’t know yet, but whatever it is, when I’m all set up and successful with a big house and lots of servants, you and mom can come visit me and I’ll show you the world!”
The Father, although he’s seen the world, says ok. He knows Bob is dissatisfied, and knows, that as much as he would like, sometimes a dad just can’t fix things. So he figures out how much half of his estate is worth and gives it to the young man. Bob is thrilled and sets off dancing down the road.
In the meantime the other son, the older son, whom will call Bill, putters his days away on the farm. He finds a local girl, they get married, they have a whole passel of kids….and Bill is happy. He loves his life. He drops in on his folks every morning, usually with a giggling youngster or two hanging on his coat tails, and shares a cup of coffee while discussing the day’s work. He helps his mom fix her loom when it’s broken and he makes sure his dad gets the special medicine he needs for his aching knees. His parents dote on him, and are always bragging about him, but no one minds listening because everyone in town knows Bill, and everyone thinks he is one great guy.
Well, things didn’t go so well for Bob. He finds that the world out there really isn’t much different that the world back home, except that no one really cares about you. You can eat, drink and be merry, but if you screw up you’ll get fired and if you run out of money, lots of times you run out of friends too. Finally the only job Bob could get was – you guessed it – on a farm. He didn’t get a good job on the farm either. His job was to feed the pigs. Now in Jewish society pigs were considered lowest of the low. I don’t even need to know that, because I was raised on a farm. I do not like pigs. Pigs just plain stink.
So Bob looked up one day and said, “I want to go home,” and so he went. You know the rest – the father was ecstatic, Bob was repentant, Bill was jealous. We don’t know the end for sure, but I think they worked it out and all lived happily ever after.
And what does this have to do with willingness? Everything! If we are willing to trust that God loves us and accept His free gift of grace, well, as Jesus said, we can move mountains! We can climb out of our pigpen of pride and go home. We can joyfully embrace those who have deserted us. And we can leave behind the jealous, judgmental legalism that threatens to poison our joy, and live in freedom and security knowing that we don’t have to watch out for ourselves or anyone else. That’s God’s job.
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