The Prodigal Son‘I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father.’ (1 John 2:14)

The quality that I personally believe is most vital for prophetic ministry is an intimate relationship with the Father.

This kind of intimacy comes from having a revelation of, and personal encounter with, God as a loving Father. [1]

The Unbelieving Heart of the Believer

My mother-in-law used to speak fervently about ‘evangelising the unbelieving heart of the believer.’ This spoke of her call to minister healing to the hearts of Christians. [2]

My husband Malcolm (aka The Hunk) and I were passionately involved in world missions, and her favourite quote was a continual irritation to me. ‘What,’ I thought, ‘could be more important than evangelising the heart of the unbeliever?’

A Crisis of Faith

‘What has happened to all your joy?’ (Galatians 4:15)

By 2009, Mum’s voice began to be silenced as Alzheimer’s robbed her of the ability to convey what was on her heart. But her vision was to finally bear fruit in my life.

I had not realized the contradiction that was within me until burnout brought it to the surface.

After years of exhausting Christian service—comprised of unwise choices of my own making—I could finally go no further. The approval I had sought to work for was out of reach. My crisis of faith was summed up by the question I cried out at that time:

‘Are You the God I am afraid that You are—a task-master whose approval I can never win? Or the Father I have longed for—a God of grace and joy?’

One day, as I voiced the question for the umpteenth time, I was surprised to hear God’s voice in response. His answer to me was, in brief, ‘You choose.’

I took time to consider the evidence of

  • The Bible’s teaching
  • The heart of the Father that Jesus demonstrated in the Gospels, and
  • The gracious love of the Holy Spirit that I recognised and felt for others, but failed to perceive for myself.

Finally, I made a decision and a recommitment. ‘I believe that You are the God of grace and joy—and I receive You as my Lord and Saviour.

The matter was settled, and the unbelieving heart of this believer was converted. My spiritual eyes were opened to see my loving Father.

One Father, Two Sons, Three Positions

Following this revelation of God as Father, I moved into a period of recovery, during which Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son came to life for me. [3]

At that time I noticed three positions of sonship that were illustrated by Jesus’ parable, and I saw aspects of my journey in each of them.

1. The Lost Son

The younger son became separated from his father and his father’s household through sin and rebellion. After squandering his inheritance, he became destitute. He then found employment with a harsh foreign master who sent him to the fields to feed pigs, whilst not providing him with the food that he himself needed to live.

Ironically—in spite of the clear parallels between the lost son and someone who is a non-Christian or a backslider—at my lowest point, I mostly identified with the younger son.

My master had been a system of good works. I too had spent all that I had; not on ‘riotous’ living, but on ‘right’ living—doing the right things in my own strength. Now I was starving spiritually. But like the lost son, I finally came to my senses—it was time to come home.

2. The Serving Son

The older brother could have enjoyed the privileges of sonship and intimacy with the father. But although he lived in the Father’s household, he laboured as a servant.

His lack of intimacy with his father was demonstrated by his failure to rejoice at what his father rejoiced in—the return of his lost brother.

The older brother served for his future inheritance, but did not partake of the portion that was available to him in the present. Instead of enjoying what was his by right, he complained to his father, ‘You never gave me…’

I recognised that like the older brother, my focus had been on bringing pleasure to God by faithfully serving, performing and gaining results. Deep down, I felt I needed to do something to earn God’s blessing and favour.

My Christian life lacked joy. I began to see that I had been working for God’s Kingdom whilst neither enjoying, nor being fully aware of, the Kingdom inheritance that is available to me now.

3. The Embraced Son

Coming to his senses, the lost son returned, penitent, to a surprising reception. Instead of the father he was expecting to meet—a charitable employer who would take care of him as a servant—he discovered a love-consumed, waiting, embracing father.

His father ordered a feast, brought him into the household, and put a robe, ring and sandals on him—symbols of restored sonship.

Since the ‘conversion’ of my heart, I have come to realise that there is nothing I can do to gain my Father’s approval. I already have it, along with His unconditional love and acceptance. Rejection and low self esteem has fallen away. I know that I give Him pleasure, not through what I do, but simply because I am His child.

My focus is now centred upon my intimate relationship with God as being the most important thing—and I have fallen in love with Him in a greater way. Out of that love I can freely love others.

In the past, I struggled with an orphan mindset. But now, knowing Abba Father and being with Him gives me the greatest joy—abundant and effective service flows out of that place of rest. And finally, I am learning that there is a Kingdom inheritance available to me now—not just in the future.

Although I sometimes move out of this position, I recognise when I do and continually find my way home to the Father’s waiting arms.

I pray that you also will discover something in this study, as well as my own story, to move you closer in your own relationship with God the Father.

I also encourage you to follow this up by reading and prayerfully considering the original passage in Luke 15:11-32.

One Father, Two Sons, Three Positions: Which of These Describes You?


[1] Jesus came to reveal God as Father (John 17:6-8, John 14:9-11) and to restore us to relationship with God as His children. This revelation of the Father accounts for some of the key distinctions between Old and New Testament prophetic ministry.

See also:

How To Weigh Up What The Prophets Are Saying Pt 2

And look out for the following post in future weeks: The Difference Between Old And New Testament Prophecy

[2] This expression, ‘evangelising the unbelieving heart of the believer,’ is a quote by John and Paula Sandford. In their book ‘The Transformation Of The Inner Man’, they write, ‘Paradoxically, we are healed by being taught to put no confidence whatsoever in our own flesh, simply to rest in Him.’ P10, Phil 3:3

Sandford, J & P.  The Transformation of the Inner Man. 1982. Bridge Publishing. 412p

[3] In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus told a parable concerning a lost son who returned home to his father, in response to religious criticism of His association with ‘sinners.’At the time Jesus spoke this parable, the elder brother was illustrative of the listening Pharisees who were critical of Jesus’ fellowship with the sinners they despised. Sadly, many of them would end up shut outside of God’s Presence, whilst the grace of God would be extended to repentant sinners who put their faith in Jesus.

This same grace is available through Jesus to you and me today.

© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

17 thoughts on “1 Father, 2 Sons, 3 Positions: Which Describes You?”

  1. I have been so blessed by your blog since the wilderness season of my life began. I always found answers here when I searched the internet. I am nourished, corrected, taught, admonished, loved in this blog. I thank God for your life though it was not always easy for you. Thank you. You have answers for everything that ails my spirit I am amazed every time. I hearded home from work to cry my heart out. I believe as I cry the orphan spirit will flow out of my heart forever with every tear. I pray truly pray that I too will get to know the Father and that His name will cease to be a source of fear and apprehension. I can’t keep on running to Jesus to ask the Father for me and attempting to separate the Godhead. I would like to know Him and stop accusing Him of a lot of things. I know I break His heart a lot because I don’t understand Him. I ask for grace to help me to know the Father.

    Johannesburg, South Africa

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