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Luke 15 verses 15 & 16. “So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”

Now, here is a dilemma that confronts many people. What happens when your dreams and hopes for the future are destroyed? At first glance it seems that this young son’s problems are very much like the hard-luck stories we hear today. But not quite!

Firstly, he got off to a good start. He had a grand and comfortable home background. He had a good father, unlike many people today. And he got a good financial start by taking his share of the inheritance.

Secondly, his motive in going was entirely self-centred. He was ungrateful, ungracious and wanted no restrictions on his life. Many today who leave home and try to make their way in the world, do try honestly to start from scratch. If they fail, we can easily sympathise with them. But the boy in our story had no such ambitions. He did not want to set up a business. No! He wanted to party. It seems like hedonism was well known even in those days. “He squandered his wealth in wild living” (v 13).

Thirdly, the friends he made while tasting his freedom were exactly the kind of friends who would rob you of that very freedom and pull you back into slavery (v 30).

This young man was certainly not quite on the same level as other hard-working young people who try to make a life somewhere and fall on hard times. But like many other people we may know, he was deaf to good advice, blind to the folly of his actions, intoxicated with himself and deluded into thinking he was truly free.

In verse 14 we read of increasing hardship. Famine stalked the land, all his money was gone, no one gave him anything to eat or helped him to survive and jobs were scarce. What a wake-up call. We should not overlook the fact that often God uses our circumstances to impress upon us the hopelessness of our situation. Sometimes the very things that make us angry with God are his tender mercies leading us to a point where our lives will be turned around. We should pity those who never receive wake-up calls or are so spiritually dense that they do not recognise such calls.

But our young hero has suddenly discovered how selfishness and moral foolishness can blind us and distract us from the only things that make sense and the only place where there was true freedom – in his father’s house.

We should pray for our friends who are so full of themselves or so full of their own plans they cannot see the danger signals. We all know people who have wilfully forged a course of life that is in opposition to all the values and morals that make for true happiness and instead plot a course for personal failure and despair.

Still, when they crash, we should be there to help pick up the pieces. That is what the Gospel is all about. Maybe there was someone there for you?