Luke writes about the prodigal son, "When he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him" (Luke 15:14-16).
I have seen this kind of starvation among Christians. They once had a marvelous testimony of grace and mercy but because of sin, they became spiritual skeletons with no life whatsoever.
Luke writes: "When he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants" (verses 17-19).
The young prodigal had to admit, "I can't handle these blessings after all. I've sinned against God and my family and squandered everything that's been given to me!"
Repentance is more than just turning around and going back to God. It is a full surrender of self-government, a return to God with this confession: "Lord, I've made a mess of my life and now I come humbly to You, asking You to take over my life!" That's when God begins to do a very special work of restoration.
When the son returned, he was fully restored in his father's house—not as a servant, but as a son! He was willing to submit to his father and be under his governance. Moreover, he wanted intimacy with his father. He had lost all interest in the things of the world and was ready to do as his father commanded (see verses 20-23).
What a wonderful scene of total restoration!