For the first 8 years of my life, I grew up as a missionary kid and one of the perks of being on the mission field was the ability to have some cool pets. Shortly after arriving in Uganda my family added a pet monkey to our family.
Here’s a picture of our pet monkey:
We named him Monk-Monk… I know, I know, not the most creative name. We lived in a remote area that was surrounded by open terrain and so, to keep Monk-Monk from wandering away from our yard, my dad placed a long post in the front yard and attached a chain to it. The chain was connected to Monk-Monk’s collar when he was outside and that kept him from being able to run away.
Needless to say, Monk-Monk didn’t like the chain. The first day he would start running away from the post at full speed… the chain would run out of slack… and Monk-Monk’s run would abruptly end. You would think that, as he lay there sprawled in the yard rethinking his failed escape plan that he would adopt a new strategy or give up. Not Monk-Monk. For several days his pattern continued. He would run from one end of the chain to the other, desperately trying to free himself from this imposed bondage.
After watching this scene play out for a few days, my parents decided that it might be best if they removed the chain and just saw what would happen. They unhooked Monk-Monk and immediately he ran straight out of the yard into the open bush country.
We thought we had lost our monkey forever. Several days passed. There was no sign of Monk-Monk anywhere. Just when we were about to give up and lose hope that he would ever return, one afternoon we saw an animal on the road approaching our house. It looked like a monkey and as he approached we were able to determine that Monk-Monk had returned. He looked different, however. He was scratched up and scrawny and looked like he had been through a war.
Monk-Monk never left the yard again. He didn’t need a chain or a boundary marker. He was excited to be home. The freedom that he longed for wasn’t all that he had hoped it would be and He “came to his senses” and realized life was good with the Simon family.
We call Monk-Monk our “prodigal” monkey.
Jesus tells a story about a prodigal son who was convinced he wanted to leave home and experience freedom on his own. The son brashly asked for his inheritance and left on a party binge that was probably the stuff of legends… only to realize in the end that the true place of happiness and contentment was with his father.
A simple story with powerful implications for us…
I put it this way…“When desire turns to obligation, bondage begins”. Reflect on that truth today. There are times we are all “prodigal” monkeys.