In the well-known story of the prodigal son, he thought his ultimate life objective was far away from home. “Not long after [he received his inheritance he asked for from his father], the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country, and there squandered his wealth in wild living” (Luke 15:13). But he soon realized that the real treasure was back home. After he was broke and hungry, he remembered how good it was back home (Luke 15:17), and he returned. The prodigal found the treasure of home when he was far away.
We may look forward to a vacation and travel to some distant state or country, but usually one of the best parts is coming home. At times circumstances require that we be away from our family and friends for a while; that is when we have a new appreciation for spouse, children, parents, neighborhood, and church friends. We have new joy in being with them again.
Sometimes we seek happiness away from the common and the ordinary only to discover that real contentment is found in the routine that has been with us all along.
At some point in life we all have to come to grips with the reality that happiness is not found in some faraway place or a large bank account, but rather from that which is close by, such as family and special times and places. As Jesus said, “…a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions “ (Luke 12:15b).
The prodigal son is a warning to us all that we should not have to travel far literally or intellectually to find that what is really important is near.