One night while my mother-in-law visited, my family had a Family Home Evening (or FHE).
For those of you who may not be familiar with this phenom, millions of Latter-day Saints have an official church meeting in their homes once a week for family time and gospel instruction called the FHE.
The leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set aside Monday nights for this meeting which is led by the parents or guardians in each Saint's home. We were having FHE with my mother-in-law and we each took turns describing paintings that had depictions of Bible Stories.
I was in a foul mood, but I went through my story about The Good Samaritan and there was brief discussion about the impropriety of a castaway such as a Samaritan helping a Jew and how it compared to today's society--who would be the Jew and who would be the Good Samaritan.
A few others took turns describing various stories and showing paintings. My oldest son's Bible story was about the Prodigal Son. He gave a lackluster summary of the story but it had a profound impact on the meeting, on me!
The Prodigal Son following:
...A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Fatted Calf Party!!!
After much reason, we came to a consensus that the steady son, the good son was upset that he did not get a party. The father explained to him that he, the good son, has all that there is from the father, but the other son has returned from the world and should be celebrated.
Any time a person returns from being lost it should be a celebration. The good son was never lost. He did not get a party because he was never lost. He never lost sight of his inheritance....
We decided that we were all prodigal sons returning to God. All except my mother-in-law seemed happy about the discussion.
She said, "Look. I understand that the prodigal son was a sinner and he returned to God; but I been wondering since I was a little girl why didn't the older son get a party!"
She continued, "I can identify with the older son being that I am the oldest in my family. I think he should have a party too. I don't care that he owns everything. He didn't get a party!'
We all started laughing, but we seriously thought about what she said. I thought the Good son should have gotten a party too; I just never voiced it.
Mom was brave for sharing her feelings about a set of verses that she had not really come to terms with for years. She voiced it and found that it is fine to have a question about what you believe.
It does not mean that you are falling away from God to question verses in the Bible that you don't understand.
We were all laughing when I promised Mom that we would have a party for the Good Son the next week since she was flying back to her home.
The Bigger Point
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the presiding council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2008 to 2018) made a profound statement when he perpetuated the teaching of Fred Francis Bosworth from his 1924 book entitled Chris The Healer.
President Uchtdorf instructs:
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.
Speaking in earnest to Christians who may have lost their way because of an unkind word or a misunderstood or hurtful teaching President Uchtdorf continues:
We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The point is: When doubts arise, question them! Your faith has been there much longer than one doubt.
If your doubts are found to be warranted, pray about it and allow God to direct your paths, while still practicing your faith in Jesus Christ.
Which of the characters do you identify with most in the parable?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Rodric Anthony