We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!  Luke 15:32 (NLT)

The Prodigal Son saga helps us examine different perspectives of the same story.  

The Father

The Good Son

The Wayward Son

The Father allows his son to make a horrible decision he knows will cause him pain.  Yet he never gives up.  He is always looking for his return.

The Good Son appears, at first glance, to be better because he stayed.  Yet bitterness is brewing on the inside.  Perhaps he’s done a fair job of hiding his true feelings, until the day his brother returns.  Then the truth bubbled out.

The Wayward Son, who is a bit of a brat, throws a fit and demands his way.  He soon discovers life is hard outside of the Father’s protection.

In one story, God reminds us that we are all capable of reacting like any of these characters.

I remember being the kid who needed a do-over.  It's a very lonely feeling.

When the prodigal son gave up doing things his own way and went back home to his father, he may have smelled like pigs.  His mind was filled with the images of filth in his life.  You KNOW that had to feel awkward. 

After the celebration party, have you ever considered what happened the next day, week or month?

Maybe he felt like I did, "I don't fit in."

After wandering in my own filthy circumstances, the pull of the Holy Spirit was so strong I couldn’t wait to run back to the Father.  But honestly, once I walked the aisle to give my life to God, I felt out of place.  I looked around that room of churchy people and thought, "I can never be one of them.  I'm too bad, too dirty, too far gone."

Sometimes we forget what that felt like.  After praying for God to forgive, the newborn Christian sits and wonders, “Now what?  I don't fit in."

Several years ago during an invitation, I watched a lonely sheep make her way to the front of the church.  Immediately my heart began to feel that familiar knock, "Go!"  I reasoned with God, "I don't know her, Lord.”  The knock became a push on my chest.

I saw her slip into a side room as we sang our departing song.  I turned to my husband and said, "I need to go to her."  He said, "Go."  I stepped through the door and there on the floor... still weeping was this precious lamb, talking to one of our pastors.

Tears were streaming down both of our faces as I reached out and said, "My name is Luann and I've been where you are."  It was as if God immediately connected our hearts.  Now she runs to help others who don’t fit in.

We are all broken vessels in the hands of the Master Designer!  If you're a Christian who has forgotten what it was like to feel alone and out of place, will you ask God to help you see someone who needs your encouragement?  There may be a baby Christian within your reach who feels out of place.  Your arm may be the perfect fit around their shoulder.  Go love some of God's lonely children today.

If you feel like "you don't fit in" let me assure you, you do!

Father, it’s so easy to forget how awkward we felt when we first gave our heart to You.  We didn’t fit in with our old life, yet we had no idea how to live the new life.  Will You remind us what that felt like so that we can share the family love?  You poured into us, help us to pour into others who are looking for ways to fit in.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Luann Prater

Executive Director and Founder of Encouragement Café Ministries

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