He was the life of the party. The go-to guy. For a good time call...
Mr. Popularity had earned his place in the jet-set.
Or maybe it was more like camel-set. Regardless, in first century Israel, Sonny knew how to live life to the fullest. On Dad's money.
He'd helped himself to it before it was time, but after all, the old geezer could hang around another two or three hundred years and the parties were happening NOW! The world was waiting for a dashing guy like him.
It was, too. Waiting for him to foot the bills. Empty-headed women, shallow con artists, and schemers were all too excited when he showed up. Flattery gushed like syrup from a broken bottle and he knew he'd found his real self. Yeah, this was his kind of life.
Until the money ran out.
The party crowd deserted him like dust in the wind and he found himself jobless, penniless, and friendless. How long did he hop from tent to tent, assuring everyone it was a simple downturn? He'd be back to his old self any day now. C'mon, just a couple of bucks till his ship came in.
But any day now never arrived. Neither did the ship. And he was out of the loop. For good.
We don't know how long the prodigal son wallowed in self-pity or self-deception, but having known a few prodigals, I imagine it was longer than it should have been. One frantic scheme after another failed until he found himself on Skid Row, begging garbage from the pig farmers.
I love the way the Bible phrases what happened next, because that simple line is the key to change for every single one of us.
"He came to himself."
Can't you picture him? Sitting in squalor, gnawing on a rotting carcass, whining about his misfortune, when it hit him. Like a hammer to the head.
Clarity. Truth. Reality hit without warning and he became human again. He'd stopped being human when he took off with Dad's fortune, human in the sense that God created him to be.
We all cease to be human when we allow animal passion and lust to consume our lives. Each human spirit was created in the image of God, designed with certain deficits that can only be adequately filled by God Himself. As long as we stay on the path God orchestrated for us--seeking him, growing wiser, understanding life as it really is--we remain fully human as God intended us to be.
But when we choose to allow hedonistic cravings to take control of our lives, we debase ourselves, unworthy to be considered in the "image of God." As evidenced in our world gone mad, society follows the moral climate of its members, trending either up or down. Usually down, as Man cannot seem to maintain morality for longer than a few generations.
When the Prodigal "came to himself" sanity returned. He suddenly saw himself as he was, and the picture was not flattering. That's the first step to repentance. The first step to returning your soul to "the image of God."
Have you "come to yourself?" Or are you preparing to give the concrete wall another run? Those friends you can't leave behind? You might not have to. They'll leave you when you change directions. When they can't use you anymore.
Does the "fun life" have too strong a hold on you? Is the world's fair just too appealing?
Could it be that you're eating rotten sewage disguised as caviar? Maybe it's time you came to yourself.