I have always found Murphy’s Law fascinating if not fanciful. And it has been expressed in many slightly different ways: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” or “ Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” or “If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.” It is a fanciful and funny way of expressing in popular language the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Law of Entropy, the reality that everything eventually breaks down.
Murphy’s Law and the Law of Entropy keep coming back to my mind as I am reading the story of the prodigal son. Everything that can go wrong, goes wrong in this story. Here is a father with two wonderful son, settling down into a comfortable life style to enjoy the fruits of his labors in his old age. Then, the younger son tells the father to give him his share of the inheritance for he wanted to venture out on his own. The father accedes and the son gets up and goes. He enjoys the time of his life, living it up. Then, he wakes up one day to realize he has squandered all this fortune. Then, a famine strikes. Then, he cannot find a job. Then, he lives a life like the pigs he was tending. Things are all going wrong around him. He decides to get up and go back to his father and ask for forgiveness. The father welcomes him back with great joy and orders a feast to celebrate the return of his son. His dreams for his old age might yet come true. But, no! Then, the other son gets mad over the feast the father has thrown to celebrate the return of his prodigal younger son. Then, the other son sulks and wouldn’t even enter the house until his prodigal brother is thrown out. The father then asks the other son to share in his joy instead of sulking.
Murphy’s Law and the Law of Entropy describe the natural run of things. In the story of the prodigal son, everything that can go wrong went wrong. And that is real life. I have seen it happen in mine too. But in the life of the Spirit, grace trumps the laws of nature – everytime. Greed is the natural way things are run. But the grace of the Father’s boundless generosity will trump that greed anytime. He respects each person’s freedom to choose his path in life.
Sorrow and pain, difficulties and challenges will necessarily come into the lives of men just as naturally as rains must fall. But grace trumps all sorrow and pain, all difficulties and challenges. The Father’s unconditional love will always provide a shelter and a refuge for all in pain and sorrow, for those beset by difficulties and challenges.
Revenge and retribution is the natural tendency against those who have hurt us. But grace trumps this naturally tendency. The grace of the Father’s limitless compassion and capacity to forgive will transform the ill feelings seeking revenge and retribution into loving acceptance and welcoming forgiveness.
I have often been like the prodigal son, seeking only what is best for me and ending up squandering my opportunities. I have also been like the other son, looking enviously at the blessings of others and complaining “Where is my share of the inheritance?” But thanks to the grace of the Father, I have also experienced His boundless generosity, His unconditional love and His limitless compassion.
The Lord is kind and merciful and abounding in love.
“Then the father said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’“