grace denied

Posted: May 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

We couldn’t have had a nicer fall evening for a celebration feast.  The fire was crackling.  The music wafted across the clear, crisp air.  The yard was filled with friends, family, neighbors.  Though many had been jaded in my son’s absence, all were ready to celebrate with us upon his return.  Conversation bubbled and laughter rang out. 

I couldn’t stop watching my son.  It was so good to have him home.  A bath, a meal, and an afternoon of rest had served him well.  He was still thin, but the exhaustion had lifted from his shoulders and the glaze had left his eyes. 

My elder son’s face was just a blip of rage on the darker outer edge just beyond the torch light as I happened to look up.  I saw the set of his brow, how dark his skin mottled, and then he turned, stalking away.  Oh.  I had hoped he might find joy in the return of his brother.

I called his name as I hurried across the crowd after him, but if he heard me, he showed no evidence.  Moving with purpose, I stepped beyond the torches and called his name out with more force.  He stopped moving, but did not turn to face me.  Instead he stood there, rigid, as if he had been snared, mid-step.  I hurried to him.

“My son.”  I used my most patient, best-humored voice.  “Come now.  Where are you going?  Please!  Come and celebrate your brother’s return with us!” 

A muscle twitched in his jaw.  His eyes, fixed on the horizon, did not turn to acknowledge that I had spoken.  I reached to touch his elbow.  He wrenched his arm away and turned on me, eyes blazing. 

“A party?  A feast?  You killed the fatted calf for my brother, after all he has put us through?  Hasn’t he taken enough?” 

“Please,” I tried to be gentle, “We feared he was dead!  Look here!  He is alive and among us!  Isn’t that sufficient reason for a celebration?”

“A celebration?”  His voice was venomous.  “He left us!  He stole from this farm!  He shamed us!  He made us the object of gossip!  We all heard how he acted while he was away.  A celebration??  Who stayed here and worked?  Who did every thankless, dirty job that needed done in all these months?  Who worked like a slave for you?”

Like a slave?  I stepped back, drawing a breath. 

But the rage in him was unleashed, unstoppable.  “You killed the fatted calf for him?  What have you done for me, all these months?  Where is MY party?  Where is MY feast?  When do I get to matter?  What about me?” 

“Son.”  I reached a conciliatory hand toward him.  “You have been here all along.  We have worked side by side.  Shared meals.  This farm is as much yours as mine.  Your brother was gone!  We thought we might never see him again.  How can you not rejoice at his return?  Please.  Please lay your bitterness down.  Please come and join us in the celebration!”

He stared at me in cold fury for a moment.

And then turned to walk away. 



  1. Cala says:

    Thank you for writing this series. I’ve never had a better understanding of that story. I can’t believe how much I related to the older son. Definitely revealed some things about myself I didn’t realize before. Sometime you should do this with more stories in the Bible. I love historical fiction, it takes me there in a much more personal way than reading it as chronological fact or parables do.

    Loved it!

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