My name is Lemuel, and I am being groomed by my father, a prominent and successful citizen of our city, to take over our large enterprises someday. As his eldest son, I was pre-destined for this role; consequently, Father expects a great deal of me, which is only fair, since one day I will inherit the larger bulk of his estates.
So, I haven’t had a lot of free time to hang out with friends or to pursue the normal sports or hobbies of my counterparts. Occasionally, I resent this, but mostly, I’m too busy to think about it. Once, though, it became almost too big of a burden for me to bear. . .
“Son, after all this time, your mother is pregnant again!” so thrilled at the prospect, Father's joy as contagious as the chants at a pep rally.
Mother died a year later, never having completely recovered from Samuel's birth. He was a cute little bugger, I’ll give him that! Father grieved by centering his attention on the little, motherless tyke, ignoring my pain and loss in the process. Even as my mother was buried deep into the ground, I buried myself in furthering our business interests. Dad spent increasingly less time at work, doting on Samuel—until he seemed to neglect all else to satisfy the lad’s every whim.
Cute little Samuel turned into a spoiled little devil. Ironically, though, I was drawn to him like a bee to honey, because he resembled our mother so. I could see her in his eyes and hear her laughter in between his chuckles. He could do no wrong, my brother, bewitching those around him as he evolved from an adorable youngster to a winning teenager to an exceedingly handsome young man. He beguiled people into accepting his questionable behaviors much like a snake charmer hypnotizes his victim. So, I was greatly relieved when Father told me that Samuel was going abroad. I didn’t know until later that he had cashed in his share of the estate, an irresponsible action I was sure would come to haunt him.
We received postcards sporadically from my brother, plastered with scenes of casinos filled with questionable women in resorts of ill repute until it was clear he was squandering away his wealth. Then, there was complete silence. Months went by with no communication. Father feared the worst.
But, lo, and behold, an emaciated, unkempt Samuel eventually showed up on our doorstep, wiling his way back into our Father’s graces. Father was heartbreakingly overcome with joy. He prepared a sumptuous celebratory feast in honor of Samuel’s return, a party that would most likely break us if I were not slaving away at the helm! I refused to attend this mockery of justice and Father approached me about my absence.
“Why should I honor Samuel for his wickedness? All these years, I have labored for you, respectfully obeying your every order, striving to be your model son, and never have you celebrated my faithfulness with as much as a bonus check, let alone a party of such magnitude as you have given this worthless brother of mine! I have had a raw deal ever since Samuel was born!” I angrily spouted off my grievances one by one, almost shouting in my fervor to be heard—really heard—by my father.
“Lemuel, my son, my son, I did not know you felt this way! You are my firstborn, my most cherished possession! Everything I have has always been yours from the very beginning! I fear your bitterness has overcome mercy. Why, it sounds as if you have been just as lost to my love as your younger brother has been! Please, Lem, be glad that your brother has been forgiven. He was lost and has been found!”
Somewhat ashamed at my unleashed outburst, I again gave way to Father’s wishes and joined the others to celebrate Samuel’s return. Indeed, he did look a sorry mess, the years of wild living showing up on his weathered features. He was tearful and humiliated. Unbidden, a scene from my past flashed before my eyes. I had bungled a business deal badly, costing us a reliable client because I was intentionally careless. I had gone to my father and confessed, expecting chastisement at the very least. Instead, out of love, he had readily forgiven me.
I now approached Samuel with a new-felt understanding.
“Welcome home, my brother,” shaking hands with him, one forgiven sinner to another.
Loosely based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son found in the Bible, Luke 15.
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