Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons”. Luke 15:11-12 (NLT)
Today I watched a Youtube video called “The Marshmallow Test”. It involves a young child left alone in a room with a tasty marshmallow. The child is told that, if they wait and don’t eat the marshmallow, they will be given another one. In other words, will they choose to immediately gobble up the marshmallow, or will they delay for the promise of a greater reward?
This simple experiment has been performed for almost fifty years, and has yielded all sorts of interesting information—including the fact that kids still love marshmallows. But two thousand years ago Jesus was talking about this very same choice, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
The younger son takes his marshmallows, ehr, I mean his wealth, and squanders all of it on ‘wild living’. He descends into miserable poverty, so miserable that he slinks back home to ask–not for forgiveness–but for a job as a lowly hired hand. However, instead of facing condemnation, the son is welcomed back by his father with much rejoicing and a big party.
But back to the Marshmallow test. Researchers followed up on these children decades later, and found that 100% (yes, you read that right) of the kids who didn’t eat their marshmallows were successful—either good students or workers, with satisfying lives. They also found that the kids who ate the marshmallows were measurably less happy, with addiction or attitude problems. That first bad decision paved the way for other bad decisions throughout their lives.
The Marshmallow test is an early predictor of a person’s self-control, but Jesus tells us that this is not the end of the story. His parable of the Prodigal Son shows us that an unwise decision does not have to control our lives. The Lord never gives up on us. Like the father in the story, He is always waiting for us to come home. Like the younger son in the story, we can learn to make better decisions, even if we’ve made an extra large marshmallow bagful of bad ones.
No matter what you are going through, or how many mistakes you’ve made, Jesus is always, ALWAYS, waiting to welcome you back. If you have questions or need help, you can always contact us at the Glennon House for confidential support and prayer.
You are not alone, and you are not abandoned. Remember, Jesus was using this parable to show the rejoicing that goes on in heaven when even a single lost person returns home. “There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents”. Luke 15:10 (NLT). There is joy in heaven when a prodigal son comes home. Joy and, I suspect, marshmallows.