Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Teenager

I can't really decide if I'm enjoying having a teenager.

It's a little fragile. Like I'm enjoying him now, enjoying his budding sense of independence and humor, but I'm sort of on guard. I know this teenage thing may not to be easy. I'm waiting for it...

Leave it to my teenager to display his heart.

On the couch, we all lounged. The five kids and Mom. Typical homeschool morning. All of us loving each other, listening when the other spoke, dressed and ready to tackle the day. Whatever.

Okay, so there we sit. The prodigal son is next in our reading through the book of Luke. I know this one by heart. I have much wisdom to share. I hope they're ready. They're going to get an earful today. I'm irritated that they aren't fully embracing my introduction to the story.

Carefully, I paint the picture. The bold disrespect of the youngest son as he asked his father for his portion of the inheritance. The oldest son, by tradition and law, received double portion of the estate. The younger son received the rest. Most of the estate would have been in land, livestock, agriculture---things difficult to liquidate. The gravity of this request. The father would have to sell assets to give his younger son his inheritance. The father technically wished dead by his youngest son. The heartbreak. Both father and younger son viewed dead by the other.

Then the walk through the sinful life. Exciting at first. Always empty in the end. The height from which the prodigal fell. From wealth to envying the pigs. Squandering it all---left with nothing but his longing for his father's house.

I feel like music should begin playing at this point in the story.

Next, comes the big turn around. The son slowly begins the walk toward home. The long walk home. Surely his father would let him work for him. He rehearses his apology. Can you imagine how much time he had to think? His sorrow was probably overwhelming. He expects nothing. He's weary. He's alone. He's broken.

I pause. Yes, I have their attention.

The father sees the son. The running of the father to the son. Before the son can even apologize, the reunion of the father and son. The father forgives before the son can even finish his speech.

"Party!" The younger son gets a full-blown party. He's wasted everything on "fun" and his father is throwing him a party. Can you blame the older son for being mad?

Now, I share with my children the anger of the older son. Standing outside the party, he refuses to participate. I spend a lot of time describing the heart of the older son. I understand this guy. I've been him. Obedient on the outside, living with the pigs on the inside.

I end with Timothy Keller's observation that at the end of the parable, the younger son is the only one who was restored to the father. The story ends with the older son still outside. The son who seemingly wandered the farthest is the one welcomed home. The prodigal restored. The older son left outside. He never strayed from home physically, but his heart remained far away. He wanted the Father's things and not the Father himself.

I let the story sink in. Thanks to Timothy Keller's book Prodigal God I'm pretty sure I've nailed this lesson with my children.

No one says a word.

My teenager--my oldest son--is clearly moved.

He starts to speak--quietly, humbly, gently---


Wait for it, I thought. Let him speak. Wait for it.

"So is that the way it still works?" he says, obviously in deep thought.

"What works?" I answer. He's obviously going to speak wisdom.

"Does the oldest son still get double portion of the inheritance?"

He gives me a crooked smile and his eyes twinkle mischievously.

Poof. Moment shattered. I obviously read the atmosphere wrong.

Too bad, Kid. We're spending your inheritance.

I love that boy...even if he is a teenager.

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