Lost In The USA - a modern day story based on the Parable of The Lost Son - Luke 15 v11-32
Once upon a time in a quiet town close to New York City, there lived the owners of small antiques shop. Bill and Betty had worked very hard for 40 years building up their business. There shop had many wonderful treasures and people would travel from many miles around just to buy many of the items that the couple had to sell. Unfortunately, Bill became ill and almost confined to bed. His wife found it very difficult to manage the shop one her own so it was agreed that the time had come to pass the shop too their two sons, Earl and Earnest.
For a few months everything went smoothly, the shop continued to do well and the sons used the knowledge they had learnt from their parents to buy new stock for the shop very wisely. One day though, the younger son, Earl became restless and felt that it was not cool anymore, for someone so young to be running a shop that only seemed to attract customers that were much older. He wanted to meet people his own age, especially girls, he also thought that he could make lots more money by moving to the big city.
Earl decided to put an ad in the local newspapers, and within a few weeks he had sold his share of the business. His parents were upset at what he had done but realised there was nothing they could do to stop him. First, Earl decided that the best way to travel to all of the places he dreamed of was to buy a fast sports car. This was sure to impress the girls and it did. He travelled to many of the cities all over the USA, having fun, partying all night long and dating new girls where ever he went.
He'd forgotten all about his ailing father and the rest of his family but he was beginning to run short of money. He arrived in Las Vegas, every where he turned the lights were beckoning him to step towards, WOW, what a place, he had seen the adverts in the holiday brochures and watched the film stars pile up their chips in all of those thrilling movies, this had to be an easy way to make some money - but when he bet red it was black, when he bet odd, it was even. He lost his car playing Poker and before very soon all he had left were the clothes he stood in. The girls did not want to know anymore. Earl was now 1000's of miles from home, alone and becoming very hungry.
Earl had now spent three months living rough on the streets, all he could find to eat had been thrown into the trash cans of the many restaurants. He slept in dark alley ways, sharing the nights with rats and mice, also looking for food and as people walked home, they often kicked him or spat at him. Earl had become destitute. He had worn the same clothes for weeks now, there had been some heavy rains and quite often all he could do was sit in them until dry. His health was beginning to suffer, his hair was matted, his teeth hurting, his fiinger nails broken and chipped.
He had been able to hang out with others and keep warm as they stood drinking their cider around fires made from whatever was available but this was dangerous and he had often been threatened with knives. This gang though had taught him how to pickpocket and shop-lift and he was doing OK until the day he got caught. He was arrested, jailed and suffered more abuse but at least he got fed.
While in jail he had thought long and hard though about his family, he wondered if his father was even still alive and did they still care about him. He did not want to go back to the streets, he knew it would be hard to find somewhere to work and live. He had to try to get home. Before he left the jail though, he had made friends with a kindly visitor who had been to see him a few times. He spoke to the visitor and poured out his heart to him. "You should go home my son" he said, "you must try, you must begin again".
A few days after leaving the jail Earl used a few of the dollars he was given when being released to phone home. He was so relieved when his mother answered , she was glad to hear his voice again. She, with tears in her eyes rang him back, they spoke for a long time and then his father spoke with him. Earl went to the Coach station as he had agreed with his father, a ticket was waiting for him and he boarded the next coach. Meanwhile back in the Main Street where the Antiques Shop was located, a party was being arranged and everyone was invited. It was to be the biggest party ever seen in the town. Earl's brother was not happy - why was so much of a celebration being held when he had remained so loyal to his family and spent hours often looking after his father. The father replied, "My son, I thought I had lost one of my dear sons forever, he is as much a part of me as you and I love you both whatever you do, come my son, let's go and meet Earl".....
And Finally, Something More To Think About - It's not about "What Was", it's about "What Is" and "What Can Be".