prodigal: a journey into discovery, meaning and significance

We are honoured and blessed to have Lisa Brittain sharing her story with us today. Lisa blogs at eyesonjesusandshine.  You can discover more about her at the end of this post. Over to Lisa…

Prodigal, what does it really mean?

I’ve pondered long over this English word and its meaning for a number of days now. Knowing how the word is most often used I felt sure I knew the definition. So, without looking it up in a dictionary, I wrote out my own definition of the word prodigal.

From my journal: one who has wandered far from home; one who set out to have his/her own way leaving their upbringing behind; taking ones belongings and setting out alone. Wanting to be accurate, however, I decided to consult the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Maybe you already know, but I was a bit taken back by the true and actual definition of the word:

prodigal: characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure: lavish; recklessly spendthrift; yielding abundantly: luxuriant. synonyms: extravagant, profligate, spendthrift, squandering, thriftless, unthrifty, and wasteful.

My eyes locked onto the word {lavish} and my heart skipped a beat. Instantly I was reminded of the Lord’s tenderness toward me a few years back as He chose {lavish} to be my one-word focus for that particular year. I wondered then if the word was actually found in scripture and was delighted to find this precious truth nugget in God’s Word.

“In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” – Ephesians 1:7-8 (NIV)

During that year, as I prayed and asked Holy Spirit to be my teacher regarding His idea of lavish, Holy Spirit placed in my heart an acronym for the word based on the truth of our Christ bought identity found in Ephesians 1:1-13.


For the entire year, and still to this very day, the Lord continually reminds me of His lavish grace for me, and the true identity He has given me as an adopted daughter purchased by the blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I myself am the prodigal daughter of the good King.

Additionally, I am the prodigal mother of prodigal sons for whom I pray continuously. With gratitude and anticipation, I often ask Father for their return home and into their true identity as sons of God, knowing He did this very thing for me.

Today though, I continue to ponder the word prodigal with even greater enthusiasm because of the word’s true meaning. Instead of a focus on leaving or turning away, the true focus of the word is extravagant spending and luxurious gifting. Who but God is the epitome of extravagance in sending His own Son to be the perfect Sacrificial Lamb in our place?

Extravagant Grace

As much as it is true that in my youth I took advantage of my Father’s goodness and inheritance, squandering it on my desire to live my life my way, was He not all the more lavish in His goodness to call for me to come home? Wasn’t my heavenly Father extravagantly patient to wait for me to arrive at the end of my own resources? Wasn’t His willingness to clean me up and place on me His righteous robe extraordinarily luxurious?

I think back now on that time in my young adult life as I languished at the bottom of the pit of my own making believing my only option was to disappear. It was there His voice pierced the silence and spoke of His great love for me. And not just love without form, He spoke to my bankrupt soul of a good plan for my life if I would surrender all of me into His Hands.

I took Father God at His word though I didn’t know anything of what it truly meant to surrender or follow or know Him. As I staggered and stumbled and fell many times on the path, He luxuriously poured out His provision of brothers and sisters to walk with me, train me and help me grow from infant girl drinking milk to one who desired and could handle the meat at Father’s banquet table.

Even as I navigated weighty spiritual responsibilities as wife and mother, I recognized and thanked God from the depths of my being for His lavish grace and steadfast love for me. How could it be that He would restore me fully as His child and then trust me to invest in other lives for the prosperity of His Kingdom?

Steadfast Love

It was here, as a mother of young boys, I fell back to old patterns of self-sufficiency. As much as I was grateful to God for all He had done for me, I was determined my sons would not ever have to suffer or wander as I had. I would make sure they were in church, reading scripture, and praying. They would be trained in the things of God from a young age, and they would grow up knowing Jesus. I felt absolutely convinced there was no way either of our sons would wander or turn away or question the abundance of God’s grace and love. Why would they? They would have it all. I would make sure of it.

Looking back now with perspective and wisdom, I realize I mothered with a prideful stubbornness to win the prize for producing well-rounded Christ following children. At the time I was convinced I was being a responsible mother. However, I see now I was more concerned with the church formula for properly raising children than relying on God to lead me in discipling their hearts to know Him. I confess I was arrogant in my efforts and lacking in my full dependence on God.

As our oldest son graduated from high school, I found myself once again at the bottom of a pit of my own making. I recognized this place although I had promised myself I would never live there again. In my despair, I cried out to my good Father. Jesus to the rescue once again! This time His goodness seemed beyond extravagant, possibly I would even consider Him a reckless spendthrift since this wasn’t my first prodigal trip down the route of self-indulgence.

Jesus rescued me anyway. And I think He would defend me even as He extended me yet another chance to follow Him fully surrendered. I think so because that’s what Jesus did with the woman everyone wanted to stone for her adulterous behavior, as well as the woman who poured out her expensive Nard to anoint Jesus in the house of the Pharisee. (John 8:1-11 & Luke 7:36-50)

So Who is the Prodigal Really?

It was soon after His second rescue, as Holy Spirit patiently and lovingly walked me through a few years of intense inner healing, that He highlighted the word {lavish} as my one-word focus. In all these latter years on my journey with my Lord, He’s teaching me who I am as His adopted daughter and who He is for me as I continue to get to know Him in prayer and through His word.

As I confessed my sin of self-reliance, pride and arrogance in raising our two sons, the Lord’s forgiveness was instant and full of peace. He’s continually washing me up, healing me in broken places and continually training me for lovingly discipling other moms on the journey.

Best of all, the Father has proven Himself prodigal with His goodness, mercy and grace and generously lavish with the love He bestows on us. He is an extravagant Father who daily assures me of His lavish grace and steadfast love for our sons. I can count on Jesus to pursue our sons recklessly. He certainly was a spendthrift with His blood on the cross. Giving His all for us who have so carelessly taken His abundance for granted.

I am loved, accepted, victorious, innocent, secure and holy. He is lavish in His grace and His love is steadfast for me… and for my sons. What an extravagant King of unlimited resources and Father of bottomless pockets. Don’t wait any longer…

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” –  Isaiah 55:6-8

**Lisa and her husband, Randy, will soon be married 30 years. Together they are parents of two adult sons, and share their home with three adopted pups. By day Lisa works as a receptionist in the local middle school, but recently, she added author to her resume. Her book 31 Days of Gleaning with Ruth is now available on Amazon. Lisa’s mission is to reveal the important voice of each woman and to teach her how to share God’s overcoming work through story-telling. It is Lisa’s true passion to keep her eyes on Jesus and introduce women to Him in and through the open moments of her everyday life. Her message to every woman is this: “There’s a place for you here.”

Connect with Lisa on her blog:
Twitter: @deserttostream **

Linking here with #glimpsesofhisbeauty and #graceandtruth

8 thoughts on “prodigal: a journey into discovery, meaning and significance

Add yours

  1. Dear Lisa, OH how amazing is this lavish abundant God that we serve!! This thought is overwhelming me today: “I can count on Jesus to pursue our sons recklessly. He certainly was a spendthrift with His blood on the cross. Giving His all for us who have so carelessly taken His abundance for granted.” Even as I watch His grace being poured over my own needy heart, I am so blessed to hear Him calling me to trust Him with that same grace being poured over the ones that I love! Thank you for sharing your heart here with us today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Lisa, I am thanking Jesus for your living testimony that pours out such hope and love and grace on us all. His sweet fragrance is so so beautiful in your story.

    Very soon after I opened Beloved Prodigal, I stumbled on a devotional about the meaning of Prodigal and then Bettie sent it my way also. I too was so touched by that meaning.

    And your story is so timely, as daily in our Lent devotional I am blessing my girls by name with this Scripture:

    Jeremiah 31:3
    I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

    It is also blessing me to hear this daily 😊.

    Thank you for being so open and honest in your sharing – shining the redemption of our Lord all the more brightly to lift shame in our lives too. Bless you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a blessing of grace God has extended toward you in your life. He is lavish and the acronym is one that I am going to write out and post. What a beautiful way to pray over yourself everyday.

    I neve would have thought that prodigal means more than what my mind has always thought. Like you, my definition is more I was lost and now I am found. Thank you for making me aware of the deeper definition and also reminding all of us of the importance of looking at the true definitions of words.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Mary, thank you for your encouraging words to keep searching out truth. God’s word is alive and active. He, our Father, loves to teach us. I’m so glad Father
    used these words to testify of His goodness and to sharpen you on your walk. You sharpen me too for sure. 💝💝 #knittedhearts

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lisa, your honest testimony of struggle and faith is so relatable. It takes me back to a time when I was first overawed and overwhelmed by the wondrous love of God for me.. for me! What shines through your words is the Light of Christ and how it permeates your life. Just like Mary, I especially love the acronym and need to copy it out, then stick it in a place where I can easily see it each day and be reminded of the powerful truth it evokes. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us! 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love the word LAVISH too. I imagine poured out love that holds nothing back. Such a tender loving way the Lord chooses to describe his affection for us! Thanks for the post!!

    Liked by 2 people

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