Our Inheritance & The Ice Cream Sundae
I imagine that when the fella’s who translated the Bible came to the story of the Prodigal Son, there was a debate on what to title it. I imagine there was much prayer and dialogue that ran late into the night. Coffee was brewed, biscotti laid out, music heatedly discussed until they found consensus in Ray LaMontagne’s “Till the Sun Turns Black”. Finally, they came to an agreement. Then the archbishop/apostle/leader fella stood and brushing the biscotti crumbs from his beard he made his proclamation. Standing straight, shoulders back, chin up, and in a piercing nasal voice, he declared in high English, “Let this story here-to-fore be known as ‘The Prodigal Son.’”
Yeah, I have no idea how it got its title and its one of those things I’m not gonna Google for you. That way we can pretend there was magic bean juice and biscotti. That said, had I been at my imaginary debate, we would have listened to Bon Iver. But more to the point, I would have argued ardently and well that the story be titled, “The Good Father.”
I am not saying they got it wrong, so please don’t go telling everyone that Ray LaMontagne was a bad choice, or that I think the Bible is flawed. I’m just saying I think the title “The Prodigal Son” is a little misleading as the story isn’t fully about either of the sons, it’s about a good Father.
The fact is, every story Jesus ever told was about a good Father. Jesus very existence, every breath He took, revealed the good Father. So honestly, my title would have probably been righter… just saying.
But before we get absolutely lost in biscotti and magic bean juice, let me get to my point. It’s a good one! I believe that “The Prodigal Son” story was meant to reveal our heavenly Fathers always-good love as well as our unbelievable inheritance.
In fact, I am convinced that our true inheritance as believers has nothing to do with money, land, or possessions of any kind. It’s simply our Fathers love revealed.
The younger son came home ready to beg for a place with the servants. Before he could even get to the front door, his dad was running out to meet him. Before he could even begin to say what he had probably rehearsed the whole way home, his dad is hugging and kissing, and overwhelming him with affection.
I believe that it was at this moment that the younger son first truly saw his father as his dad, as love. And, in my opinion, the moment the younger son saw his father’s true nature is the moment he actually received his inheritance.
I would like to suggest that our inheritance is a revelation of our Fathers true nature – Love. In other words, our inheritance is intimacy…
The Ice Cream Sundae
“Hey, dude, there is something wrong with the ketchup. It tastes, different.”
They were my last table for the night. I had worked the lunch shift and the dinner. I was tired and ready to finish my side work and go home. I could see that the four college students – two girls and two guys – had poured the ketchup all over their cheese fries.
“I’m sorry about that,” I said, as I stood at the edge of their table. “Let me get you some new fries and a new bottle of ketchup.” I started to pick up the plate of fries when one of the fella’s said. “Dude, you can try one and see what I mean.”
I didn’t want to try their french fries. “That’s alright,” I said. I will just get you some new fries. Then one of the girls said, “It might just be us. You don’t have to get us more. Try one.”
It was such an unusual request. It was also the end of a long day and a longer weekend. I was tired, I wasn’t on my game, I tried one. It tasted fine and I said so. But I let them know that I would go and order them some new cheese fries anyway.
After dropping off the new fries the bartender called me over. My table of four college students was directly across from the bar. The bartender, who had seen the whole thing said, “Dude, as soon as you walked away from the table, they started laughing and it was pretty clear that they put something disgusting in the ketchup you ate.”
I would like to tell you that I was very much like Jesus and that I graciously turned the other cheek, but that would be a lie. To be honest, I became dizzy with rage.
As I walked away from the bartender, I was furious at my own stupidity and at the fact that I was waiting on idiots. “What could it have been?” My mind was spinning and coming up with several disgusting options. The more I thought about it the angrier I became.
I spent the next ten minutes trying to think up ways to kill them without getting caught. At one point I was walking by and they called me over. They were all laughing and smirking and though I wanted to throttle them, I put on my nice waiter face and said, “What can I get for you?” They ended up ordering this particular restaurants version of an ice cream sundae.
As I walked away I admit it, I snapped. “These kids have to pay!”
Finding a rather private area next to the freezer, I fixed them a very special sundae. I thoroughly licked all four spoons and then, for good measure, I spit into the sundae before adding the whipped cream and cherry. I walked it out, dropped it off, and in my kindest and most sincere waiter voice, said, “Enjoy guys!”
A couple of minutes later I dropped off the check and saw that the sundae was gone and all four spoons appeared to have been used.
With a sickening smile and in my best Hannibal Lector voice, I asked, “Did you all enjoy the Sundae?
“Yeah it was fine,” one of the guys said, looking at me like I’d gone mad.
I continued. “Did you all have some?”
“I’m sorry?” said one of the girls.
I leaned in and earnestly asked, “Did everyone eat it?” this time there was no missing my perverse smirk.
“Yes.” She said, with a confused and slightly disturbed look on her face. The first hints of panic were showing on the faces of the others as well.
Then, one by one, I looked them in the eye. Finally, I grinned and said. “Gooooood.”
I walked away savoring the look of horror that had dawned in each of their eyes. The bartender nodded as I passed by.
Later, on the way home, when I was in my right mind, I wondered if I should have gone with Michael Corleone. I also realized that it might be time to get out of the table waiting game.
Now you may be asking yourself, what does this story have to do with our inheritance as sons and daughters of a good Father? Well, first I wanted to warn you not to play nasty tricks on the people who handle your food. But more importantly, I wanted to point out that what we believe determines how we live. What’s crazy is that we don’t even need to have all the facts. Our actions are determined by what we perceive to be the truth.
When it comes to God, I think it’s astounding how greatly our lives are determined by what we believe. If we believe our Father is love and His love is perfected in His goodness, then we will trust. We will live in the expectation of a fuller more powerful life. Our days will be marked by hope and joy, and peace, even when life is hard, sad, and violent. If we believe that His love settles every need and answers every question that aches in our hearts, then we will step out boldly and risk. Our lives will be marked by Love and the dangerous favor of God. We will be radical responders, living in a greater revelation of our Dads love.
That said, if we live unsure regarding our Fathers good love, then we’ll find ourselves living on defense; our days will be marked by fear. Trust, hope, and joy will be fleeting; they will become principles that are impossible to maintain. In the good days we will be anxious, always waiting for the “other shoe to drop.” We will try our hardest but we will live defensive and life will become a reaction to perceived attacks. And along the way, we may even spit in someone’s ice cream sundae…
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story Ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.