Once upon a time there was a father who worried about his son. Nothing newsworthy about that; as parents, worrying about your kids is part of the job. But sometimes it's worse than others.
This father didn't know where his son was or what he was doing. We don't know how old he was; could have been a bored teenager or a burned-out sufferer of midlife crisis. All we know is that the father was at least reasonably well-off, and that the son had , as they say in British novels, expectations. It has been said that nothing can mess with a family more than an inheritance, or the feeling of entitlement that comes with looking at your parents' bottom line and thinking......
One day the son stopped daydreaming and did something about it. He asked his dad if he could get his share of the family estate NOW. We don't know if he begged, or pleaded, or tried to sell Dad on the amazing opportunity that was just waiting for him to invest in a sure thing. if this were a traditional folk tale, the son (he was the younger one) would have gone off to seek his fortune, and been very brave and very clever and wound up on the top of the heap. This being more like the real world, and like people I have known, when he was out of his father's sight, he collected lots of friends that were only to happy to share his good fortune. The world has always been full of people who gravitate to easy money. It's also always been true that easy come, easy go, and even a big barrel has a bottom. And all those friends that were so willing to eat on your dime evaporate when the bucks stop flowing.
At least he looked for a job rather than panhandling, and was willing to take the worst job out there. And when he sobered up and got tired of sharing the pig slop, crawling home was better.
There have been those who see a righteous God as one who waits for you to trip so He can slam His door in your face. In this story, both the father and son truly understood the definition of "home": it's where you go that they have to let you in.
The father understood something the prophet Ezekiel had said: If the wicked man renounces sin and lives with integrity, he shall live; and one who renounces integrity to practice sin shall die. "Shake off all the sins you have committed against me, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why are you so anxious to die, House of Israel? I take no pleasure in the death of anyone--it is the Lord Yahweh who speaks. Repent and live!" (Ezekiel 18:31-32) It's not where you've been but where you end. When you turn your back on your stupidity and sin, and repent and come home, the Father's door is open.