The Tragedy of The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Every time I read The Parable of the Prodigal Son I am struck by the behavior of the oldest son. Ever notice how we never really get a resolution at the end of the story? The story doesn’t close with the oldest son saying, “You’re right, Dad. I’m so glad my brother is home – let’s go celebrate.”

My gut feeling is that the oldest son storms away from both his dad and brother, allowing his pride and anger to get the best of him until his resentment grows and turns into hate. It becomes pretty clear by the end of the story that he always did what was right with the expectation of getting favor from his father and an elevated status in the household. As soon as that assumption is questioned by the father receiving the younger son with open arms, the older brother’s real motive comes out.

We often read the story through the lens of the younger brother, relieved that God is a father of love and mercy, ready to receive us back with open arms. What we fail to see, though, is that more times than not we are the older brother – judging and prideful. The younger brother did not just sin against the father; he sinned in some of the worst ways possible. He spat on his father’s reputation so he could have money to have sex with whores and live in squalor.

Most of us in the church have never gone this low. Sure, we’re not perfect, but we’re not included in the lowest wretches of society either. And the pride of every Christian loves God’s forgiveness in his or her own life but scorns it in elsewhere. Don’t believe me? When’s the last time you invited a recovering drug addict, abuser, murderer, rapist over for dinner? Which one of us would have no problem introducing a prostitute to all of our church friends?

You see, God’s love isn’t fair. It’s radical. So radical that it bore nails for people that torture children, rape the innocent, kill for fun. I’m being a bit extreme to make a point. But seriously. Those people have just as much right to the love of God as the most ardent churchgoer. All it takes is for them to recognize their sin and come home like the youngest son did. Ugh. That’s not the kind of grace we like. We like our moments of anger, our quick unclean thoughts, our occasional gossip to be forgiven….But murderers? Rapists? Sadists? Those people need to pay.

And there lies the pride that quickly puts us all in the place of the older brother. Are you happy to see the worst of society in your church? Do you run to embrace them and welcome them home? Or do you wonder what the hell the lady with the short skirt and tits practically out is doing in church? Are you appalled by the stench of liquor on the man sitting next to you?

I relate with the older brother. I hate the fact that God reserves the same place at his table for people who have drifted in sin all their life as for the saintly. I deserve a gold star if I wait in line the whole time and not just cut to the front. That man who killed his wife sure as hell better not get the same reward as me.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a relief but mostly, it’s a tragedy. We all like to think we’re the broken son who gets embraced by his loving father. We can even see God running towards us – smile on his face and his arms opened wide. Unfortunately, for the most part, that’s a fantasy. We’re the pissed off brother in the corner fuming, asking, “What about me?” We’re the one questioning the fairness of love that sees everyone equally. We’re the one saying, “How dare you not give me my due for all the time, energy, and devotion I gave you.”

No single sin disqualifies you from the love of God, but your pride disqualifies God from your love. It is the deadliest and most serious of all sins. Yes, even worse than murder. Maybe not in the eyes of the law but in the eyes of God. It is easy for a murderer to know he is wicked. Blood is stained upon his hands. If he wants redemption, he comes broken. “My God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” But for the “good” pride causes a major blind spot, we come to God with chin up, head held high saying, “I’m not THAT bad.” In order to receive the grace and love of God, you must first know you need it. Pride is deadly because it convinces us that we have nothing to be sorry for, that there’s nothing that we need from God. And paradoxically, the son who never walked away is still the farthest from the father.

Contemplating and Discerning God’s Will

On my daily walk this morning, I was struck by the stirring of the Spirit as I was meditating on God’s will. I guess I’ve always imagined my contribution to society would be grand. Whether that has been my inflated ego or God speaking all these years, I don’t know.

We can never know with absolute certainty what God’s will is; we can only do our best to keep an open place in our mind and heart for the Spirit to speak to us, constantly revising where we’re headed based upon His promptings.

But regardless, I often find myself irritated by the mundane aspects of life- changing diapers, cleaning the house, helping with homework, watching kids, etc. because it feels like it is keeping me from realizing greatness. How am I going to be able to create a grand piece of art that changes the world if I rarely ever have time to write?

But what if the grand is keeping me from realizing the great? What if God’s will is simply for me to be a great husband, a great father, a great teacher and preacher to my children? Maybe the grand artist is my will and not God’s.

We can never know with absolute certainty what God’s will is; we can only do our best to keep an open place in our mind and heart for the Spirit to speak to us, constantly revising where we’re headed based upon His promptings.

Better to live by the Word of God hidden from the world than to be elevated by the world without it.

My job is not to elevate myself. The world will one day forget that I existed regardless if I become “famous” or not. But hopefully the work that I do contributes to preserving the name of Jesus Christ so that thousands of years from now people will still know His name. There is no shame living a life that the world never notices if it is well lived, measured not by the world’s standards but by God’s. Better to live by the Word of God hidden from the world than to be elevated by the world without it. Teresa of Avila provides a lovely mantra to live by: “whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”

A life that brings even a single soul closer to God is a life of greatness.

This philosophy allows us to enjoy life and live fully, content in the present moment. It is folly to strive to make something out of YOUR life. Rather, live in a way that makes something out of His life. A life that brings even a single soul closer to God is a life of greatness. Don’t be blinded by the grand. Excel in the everyday, ordinary tasks, and the grand will occur if God wills it.

The more seriously you take yourself, the less seriously you take God. For when you become master, you bind yourself in chains of action, always striving harder and harder, less and less sure you’ve done enough to create a lasting legacy.

…the only time our souls are full and content is when we live in the Spirit and join in the centripetal, ever-revolving, relational love of God

But the more seriously you take God, the less pressure you have upon yourself. Laugh at yourself and the ridiculous, pompous thoughts of the human ego. God didn’t create you to glorify yourself; God created you to glorify Himself.

So love life and the people in it. Love the fact that God is going to help come to fruition His will whether you’re completely on board and do everything right or not. God doesn’t need us to glorify Him but knows the only time our souls are full and content is when we live in the Spirit and join in the centripetal, ever-revolving, relational love of God.

We are infinitely cherished and special beings while simultaneously being utterly unnecessary in the grand plan of God. This allows us to live with purpose yet pile all the weight of the world onto the Cross, onto the only one this world truly needs.

Justin Farley



My first chapbook of collected poems is available now! I hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.


You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback.
Amazon: Kindle Paperback
Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback

Thank you for your support!

Letting Go Poem About Trusting in God

Letting Go
Poem about Trusting in God

Troubles slip through my fingers like sand
as long as I cling to your commands,
letting your Word direct my way - 
floodgates to block and keep me at bay.

But it's never easy to deny yourself entry,
shackling your will under lock and key of the sentry.
Not more grit, more letting go.
Not what I can birth, what you can bestow.

There's no carrying crosses with only my will;
my volition is far too volatile.
I can get swayed by the winds of the world,
unable to predict my will after they've whirled.  

But you're unchanging, stable, and steadfast.
You provide strength and aid when we ask.
Bury pride and leave it dead in the dust.
Victory is praying through trials and learning to trust.

Justin Farley

Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback.
Amazon: Kindle Paperback
Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback

Thank you for your support!

Christian Poetry Chapbook Ebook Temporarily Free

Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback. The ebook is free on Amazon, today only (2/28/21)
Amazon: Kindle Paperback
Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback

Thank you for your support!

Fasting in the Desert A Godly Poem About Contemplation and Selfishness

Fasting in the Desert

Strip yourself naked,
unclothed of selfish desire.
For it requires fuel to burn
just as a raging fire.

If all thoughts
revolve around me and mine,
how am I to hear the voice of God,
how am I to feel the presence of the Divine?

It's by starving addictions
that we discover the depth of their roots.
Sometimes we must endure pain and misery
to prepare our hearts for grander pursuits. 

Contentment begins 
when we step into Silence's abode.
Here we find all we need
and her blessings are bestowed.

For comfort comes
not from out there but from within
and fasting in the desert
is where the search for God begins.

Justin Farley

Ashes Devotional Poem For Lent Ash Wednesday

Ashes

The fire blazed
and in the flames I gazed
upon the fuel - 
the false self feeding this renewal.
It is awareness that strikes the match
and dispatches the light
roaring into the darkness.
Though this heat is intense,
it only speaks of how immense
your glory and goodness truly are.
I fed myself to the flames
of your love,
resigned to the reality of
how fragile, how weak, how lost
I am without the gift of your grace.
It is only when we're burnt to ashes
that like the phoenix who hatches
beneath the layers of what was
do we get to experience the resurrection
of what is
and taste the sweetness 
of what is still to come.

Justin Farley

Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback.
Amazon: Kindle Paperback
Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback

Thank you for your support!

Poem About Bravery and Courage

Bravery

There's no one braver to be
in a world increasingly
defined by a litany of achievements
than the way God crafted me.

Our contributions can't be measured
solely in dollars and money signs.
For God's work isn't treasured
by the market of mankind.

Our souls become rich
and our hearts light
when we reject a model of materialism
and follow the path God has for our life.

Though pockets may become fat 
if we aspire to be paid in gold,
we'll end up failing to acquire
the dividends paid to the soul.

We fail not only ourselves
but those we rob of our gifts.
Is it worth that sack of gold, dear Judas,
to betray destiny with a kiss?

There's no one braver that I can be
than to live free
of the world's expectations
and seek the life God has willed for me.

Justin Farley


Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback.
Amazon: Kindle Paperback
Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback

Thank you for your support!

Living in Love Poem About Loving Yourself and Others

Living in Love

To live in Love
we must first accept
the imperfection within ourselves
before we can accept
the imperfection in others.

To live in Love
we must first bandage
our own wounds
before we treat
the wounds of the world.

I grant grace to you
in your weakness
to the extent that I allow
God to grant grace
to me in mine...

Such a simple request,
such a simple gesture, 
requires opening
such a tightly clasped lock
by speaking the hardest phrase
known to mankind:
"I need help."

Humility precedes Love - 
you'll never find Love
until you quit trying to fool yourself
into believing you don't need Love.

We grow in grace
by first accepting our mistakes.
Once we grasp the extent
of our own limitations and flaws,
we begin to see
the world, others, and ourselves
as we are - 
flawed and limited
but nonetheless deserving of love.

Justin Farley

Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback.
Amazon: Kindle Paperback
Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback

Thank you for your support!

Planting – A Poem About Using Your Talents and Gifts For God

Planting

These seeds I sow, 
I know not whether they'll grow
or remain dormant
without ever seeing the light of day.

Whether they'll wither and die
or if they'll take root and thrive
matters little; I am a planter - 
I leave the harvesting to You.

I keep my heart open to the wind
on whose instructions I depend
to know which grounds You ordain 
for the work of my hands.

These seeds I sow - 
I know not whether they'll grow.
But the crop is Yours to use
whether large or small. 

Justin Farley

Poem About Being Unique and Special

Alphabet Soup

God's assigned each one of us
a letter of His being - 
a unique quality that sets us apart
from each and every human to ever exist.
Though we are not God,
God is a part of us.
Our letter reveals something about Him.
It is why we are all connected.
It is why I am not greater than you.
And why you are not greater than me.
And neither are we greater than our enemy
who seems beyond the realm of redemption.
For we all make up letters in the words of God,
floating in the milk of existence like alphabet soup,
forming words
carrying revelation
digested by the human heart.

Justin Farley

Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback.
Amazon: Kindle Paperback
Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback

Thank you for your support!