Feeling footloose, frisky, and fancy-free, a frivolous, feather-brained fellow forced his fond father to fork over a fair share of the family farthings. Then the flighty flibbertigibbet bade farewell and fled far to foreign fields, where he frittered his fabulous fortune, feasting famously among faithless fair-weather friends until, fleeced by his fun loving fellows in folly, facing famine, and feeling faintly fuzzy, he found himself a feed-flinger in a festering, filthy farmyard.
Flummoxed, famished, filled with foreboding, and fairly facing famine, the frazzled fugitive fumed feverishly. Facing the facts he found his faculties and fled from the filthy foreign farmyard, returning to his father’s farm.
Faraway, the father focused on the fretful familiar form in the field and flew to him and fondly flung his forearms around the fatigued fugitive. Falling at his father’s feet, the fugitive floundered forlornly, “Father, Father! I’ve flunked, flubbed, failed, and fruitlessly, frivolously forfeited family favor. Phooey on me! Let me be as one of your flunkies. For even a fruitless flunky would fare far, far better than I have fared. Fair enough?”
Finally, the faithful Father, forbidding and forestalling further flinching, frantically flagged the flunkies to fix a feast. “Filial fidelity is fine,” the father philosophized, “but, folks, the fugitive is found! Let fanfares flare! Let flags unfurl! Fetch the fatling, play that funky music, and let’s frolic with fun!”
Faithfully, the father’s first-born was in a fertile field fixing fences while father and fugitive were feeling festive. The foreman felt fantastic as he flashed the fortunate news of a familiar family face that had forsaken fatal foolishness. Forty-four feet from the farmhouse the first-born found a farmhand fixing a fatling.
Frowning and finding fault, older brother Frank was unforgiving. The frugal first-born felt it was fitting to feel “favored” for his faithfulness and fidelity to family, father, and farm. He found father and furiously fumed. “Father! Forsooth from this folly! Frankly, it’s unfair. That fool forfeited his fortune! Floozies and foam from frittered family funds and you fix a feast following the fugitive’s folderol?” The first-born’s fury flashed, but fussing was futile.
His fundamental fallacy was a fixation on favoritism, not forgiveness. Any focus on feeling “favored” will fester and friction will force the frayed facade to fall. Frankly, the father felt the frigid first-born’s frugality of forgiveness was formidable and frightful. But the father’s former faithful fortitude and fearless forbearance to forgive both fugitive and first-born flourishes.
“Frank, Frank, Frank, Frank, Frank,” the father con-fronted. “Don’t fear nor fester. I’m your fan. Such fidelity is fine. You coffers are fairly filled to overflowing, with forty million farthings. But your phantom brother is finally and fortuitously found back in the fold. For many fortnights, I’ve fantasized about this fabulous and festive feast. So focus on fun, not funds – or flake off, Frankie.”
So, a fatheaded, foolish fugitive found fulfillment. Former failure is forgotten, folly is forsaken.
Furthermore, the father’s fast fond forgiveness formed the foundation for the former fugitive’s future fortune. For a faithful father loves forever. Four facets of the father’s fathomless fondness for faltering fugitives are:
2) Forever faithful friendship
3) Fadeless love, and
4) A facility for forgetting flaws
(We’re finally finished!)
(Adapted and paraphrased on The Parable of the Lost Son–Luke 15:11-31)
Author: Timothy E. Fulop is Assistant Dean of Faculty, Columbia Theological Seminary, Box 520, 701 Columbia Drive, Decatur, GA 3003.