Father, I am not worthy to be called your child,
but when I was far away,
you ran to welcome me,
so now I love to hear your name.
Father, each time I turn away you shed a tear.
All the ways I thought were best
have left me in a mess,
so help me, Lord, to trust your name.
You have clothed me with light,
robed in righteousness;
put a ring on my finger,
now I’m yours.
So help me, Lord, to live your word:
to bear the standard of your name.
Father, my inheritance awaits in Heav’n,Words and music by Roo Stewart
but to fill your treasure store,
to build the Kingdom more,
Lord, help me now to speak your name.
Copyright ©2007 Rooster Music, admin. by roostewart.com
Recorded on the album “Presence”
Although it‘s marked as ‘2007’ (when the album ‘Presence’ was released), the song was actually written around 1995. It takes its inspiration from the story of ‘The Prodigal Son’ found in the Bible in Luke chapter 15.
At the time of writing, I didn’t particularly feel like I had been a prodigal, living a lavish and wasteful lifestyle (I was only a young teenager at the time, with no income, inheritance or family wealth to spend), but I was fascinated with the actions of the father in the story, who celebrates the return of his lost son with overflowing, uninhibited love and joy, free from anger or condemnation.
The song is written from my perspective of addressing and encountering God (the Father), aware of how I had done nothing to gain God‘s approval and my desire to live a life of dedication, service and witness.
As a teenager, I did find it difficult to ’own’ the name of Jesus and even speak the name of Jesus outside of the context of my church and Christian youth group. Later, I discovered this wasn’t an unusual experience among my peers.
The aspect of the story of the Prodigal Son that I was drawn to the most was the bestowing of gifts: the ring and robe. (I clearly wasn't that excited about the gift of sandals when I wrote the song!) The robe has echoes of the robe of righteousness in the Old Testament book of Isaiah:
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;Isaiah 61:10 (NRSVUE)
my whole being shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
The ring, for me, was the ultimate sign of being a valued and accepted part of a family, something that as a teenager from a troubled family, I was keen to latch on to: it gave me strength and hope and it deepened my resilience amid the pressures around me.
It was also a leveller: there are no second-class citizens of Heaven. In God‘s kingdom, your value was not based on your wealth, your family or your actions, but solely on the love of God for you as an individual.
Listen to the recording of ‘Prodigal’ on the Presence album here: