“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends?’ Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast.” Luke 15:29-30 (Peterson’s Message)
I appreciate Peterson’s fresh language in an old story. Here is the older, obedient son, who, out in the fields five minutes before he heard the music and asked the servant what was going on, was likely quite content with his life. Yet knowing the insolent younger brother (I suspect they never got along) has returned, and that there is an ongoing celebration over that, the older brother goes into a full-fledged snit about how much is life now sucks.
But isn’t that kinda how life is? As John Prine characterizes it – “That’s the way that the world goes round. You’re up one day, the next your down. It’s a half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown. That’s the way that the world goes round.”
The parable reminds me that I am like the older brother in that I focus too much on what isn’t than what is, more on what is wrong than what is right, what upsets me more than what brings me joy. …. So, if one believes in divine intervention — Literally, as I was typing these previous words, our diabetic cat, Zoe, threw up this morning’s breakfast, depositing it all onto the wood floor. So here I am, returning to the keyboard after the clean-up, and I realizing that I am faced with the decision. In an otherwise pretty good life, will I let semi-digested, god-awful smelling cat hurl define my day? Will I be the older brother? Where is my snit-o-meter going to point to?