Deadbeat Dad

Dealing with Your Daddy Issues, Part 3 of 4

Luke 15.1-3, 11b-32



Are you home?

As we all know, home isn’t a place but an experience.  You can move to ten different apartments, houses or trailers and still be at home.  And you can stay in one place your entire life and never be at home.

As we’ve been dealing with our daddy issues, we’ve compared our views on God to a father we can never please and to a father who fosters deep insecurity because of the threat of violence and retribution.

Another sad experience in our world is the dad who is no where to be found.  We have a term:  deadbeat dad.  He’s physically gone, emotionally gone and monetarily gone.  He does absolutely nothing for his kids, leaving the mother to do everything.  There are also dads who haven’t left physically or monetarily, but emotionally, they’ve checked out.  One of my grandfathers was like that.  He and my grandmother were married over 50 years, but he had checked out a long time before.  And you could ask his kids: they probably felt more at home when he wasn’t in the room than when he was.

In probably Jesus’ most famous parable, known as The Prodigal Son, you have a wealthy father overseeing an estate and raising two sons.  For some reason, neither son was particularly fond of the father.  They viewed him as kind of a deadbeat.  We don’t know why.  But one took off as soon as he could; and the other eked it out while staying on his father’s estate.  But neither felt at home.  The younger one decided to try to make his own home apart from the father and the older one decided it was worth the wait to have his home once he received the inheritance upon his father’s death.  When the younger one blows his life and decides to come back home to live as a servant, the father is so excited, he throws a lavish party for this son and the younger son experiences Home with the father for the first time.

When the older son sees this extravagance towards his little brother, he throws a fit because he had been laboring away, staying loyal to the father even when he didn’t want to and never got rewarded.  And now he sees his younger brother experiencing the home he always wanted and wonders why his father never gave him this experience of home.

How have you experienced your divine Father?  Do you feel at home with him?  Or is he more of a deadbeat to you–letting you down, being emotionally unavailable, not lavishing you with a wonderful life?  What does God need to do to not be a deadbeat to you anymore?  Or what do you need to do so that he’s not a deadbeat anymore?  Is he a deadbeat?

In today’s presentation, we’ll talk about what being at home looks like and how we are invited to view ourselves as the younger son, the older son and, amazingly, even as the father in this profound parable.

Also, for a great read on this parable, check out Henri Nouwen’s book, The Return of the Prodigal Son.  

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