The younger son must be somewhat of a scamp. He's restless. Life is boring on the farm. He needs to expand his horizons. Dad is just a drag. He needs to get out and live his own life. The reckless youth doesn't just ask, he demands that his father give him whatever his inheritance is to be. There's no reasoning with this strong-willed, bull-headed restless young man. So, his father accedes to his demand.
Within days of getting his inheritance, the young man moves out lock, stock, and barrel. He's off to a far place where the lights are bright and there's something going on day and night. His head spins at what a great time he's having. Were he only paying attention, he would have noticed that his resources (namely his inheritance) were quickly becoming depleted.
Then, it happens. One of those severe events that spreads itself across countries and knows no boundaries, a famine. This young man finds himself in a foreign country and broke. He doesn't know anyone, not really. He's hungry and getting hungrier. He begs and finally a man in this far-away place allows the young man to feed his pigs. So he departs and finds himself in the fields with the pigs. He's gone just about as low as a person can go.
Isn't that what sin does? It takes you places you never thought you would go. He was sinking lower and lower. But, as long as he was having a good time and money in his pocket, it didn't matter. The old saying, "The egg hits the fan." comes to mind. Satan had taken him as far away from his Father as he could get him.
Lying in the pigpen, he starts thinking about how good he'd had it at his Father's house. His Father's servants are better taken care of than the way he's living right now. It says in verse 17 that he came to himself. It means that he finally woke up and smelled the coffee. He came to his senses. He realized that if he could just make it back to his Father's house, he would beg to be a servant because he wasn't worthy enough to be called a son.
This young man who was once full of pride and boasting has been reduced to a beggar. He pulls himself up and heads for home. He has no idea what will happen. He knows he's worthless as a human being but he's willing to give it a try. He's willing to suffer whatever his Father is willing to do to him. He's homesick.
Days have turned into months. And months have turned into years. The Father goes to the porch every day and looks as far down the path as he can. He hopes and even yearns for his son who went away. He waits and wonders and wishes. "Please come home, son."
His hope to see his son is fading. He goes out the door onto the porch. Way off in the distance he sees something. Could it be? "Probably not, but I'll just stand here a while longer and look again in a few minutes." The dot on the horizon turns into a thin shadow of a figure. There's something familiar about it. "No. It couldn't be but I'll look again in just a little bit."
The old Father's heart starts beating faster and faster. "It's him! It's my boy!" At once he runs to greet his boy, take him in his arms and never let him go. His heart is bursting with joy. He orders his servants to take his son and put him in the finest clothes. Butcher the best calf. We're going to celebrate.
It's the same in heaven. The Heavenly Father waits. He watches. Luke 15:10 says "...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."
The boy came to his senses. He turned to God. And God's grace is sufficient. Hallelujah.