Saturday, April 28, 2012

More Than A Prodigal

All through the night the Lord kept laying the prodigal son upon my heart. I can relate to this story so well. We have a few prodigals of our own. The Lord wasn't leading me to the son who left home, but in fact the father and his son who remains.

I love it when the Lord knows exactly what is churning in our hearts and just seems to whisper His word upon us so it washes over us leaving us with a new nugget of wisdom.

So, when I woke this morning, the prodigal was still on my mind so as my feet hit the floor this morning I was off to grab my Bible. I found myself in Luke chapter 15. Again, I have read this so many times, and God never ceases to give me one of the "aha" moments where you breathe in His Word in a whole new way.

Now, to begin the chapter the Lord begins with the parable of the lost sheep (vs 3-7). I notice here that there is no anger or bitterness in the Shepard as he has lost a sheep and is now leaving the others to find him. In verse 6 it says; " When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, rejoice with me because I have found my sheep." There is praise going on here! The focus isn't on why the sheep left or just where he was, only praise for his returning.

When we go down a little further to verses 8-10 it shares the parable about the lost coin. It tells us the woman searches for this coin and rejoices when she finds it (vs 9). Again she is rejoicing and sharing with neighbors and friends. She isn't beating herself over the head about how she lost it or who misplaced it, only praise of finding it.

Now when we go to verses 11-24 it brings us to the parable of the lost son. This son has a brother and has a father who loves him with all his heart. It doesn't say they have a perfect relationship. It doesn't say why the son is so angry, but just that he asks for his inheritance. Now when we receive our inheritance it usually means our parents are dead. So, was his father dead to him? This boy now has his inheritance that his father freely gives him. I notice that the father gives regardless of the actions. So a few days later the son leaves his father and brother, leaving behind his family all together. He just packs up and leaves, heading out on his own. He is searching for something. Well, we see how he lives unwisely. He spends everything he has and finds himself alone and hungry. Hungry for what? Not just food. I think he is hungry for life, for something to fill him and make him whole. Only I don't think he quite realizes this yet. This young man cannot find food or anyone to help him, so what does he do? He now thinks of his father, the man who has always been there, and is waiting his return. No matter what happened this boy still knows he can go home to his father. Did his father tell him that before he left in some way? Did his father share with him that his love is unconditional?

Whatever this boys motives were, he comes home. Upon his return the same happens as in the first two parables. His father is rejoicing. His father is going to throw a party, wrap him in love and invite friends and family to celebrate his return. The father doesn't walk away when his son comes home. He doesn't tell him, "I told you so." He isn't asking, "So, did you learn your lesson? Where were you? Where did you go? Why are you here?" He simply opens his arms and accepts the son that was lost and is now home.

But there is a twist here. The other son? The son who has been here the whole time, seeing what his father went through, and is not so happy of his return. Maybe he is happy, but just unsure. Maybe he doesn't want to feel the pain of losing his brother all over again. The son is angry for his brother's actions and doesn't understand how his father can be so forgiving and accepting of this son who left their family, left them wondering and waiting, to carry on their lives without him. They had no idea if he was dead or alive. I see this son as protective over his father and wants to make sure his brother's actions are true and he will not just bring a smile to his father's face again and leave once more hurting him again.

This is the perfect picture of unconditional love. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Redemption and the power of prayer. You know this father and son prayed for this one who left. Maybe this son even felt those prayers as he was off searching. He might think he is home for his own reasons, but I think God called him home. Can you see the look upon the son's face when his father just simply opens his arms? It's like he never left at all. He just wants to carry on like it is a new day and the past is gone. He isn't keeping score and stating all the boy put him and their family through.

This is you and me. This is our loving Savior every time we leave Him to go out searching on our own, only to return, knowing there is nothing better than to be surrounded by His love. It doesn't say how long this son is gone. It may have been a month or it may have been years. Either way there was hurt there, but more so there was forgiveness.

Do we have prodigals in our family? Yes we do. But I must ask myself, "Am I too a child prodigal?" Yes, I am. I wander from the Lord at times. Oh, He might be in my sights, but I am walking on another road all together. Down this road of me, I find there is nothing more satisfying than the love of Christ. He is where home is and home is always welcoming with love and forgiveness. This is a story of hope. We all search, we all lose our way and when we finally figure things out, God is there waiting with arms open wide. He is waiting for His children to come home. Some are off doing their own things, but He is still watching, waiting and anticipating their return. When we see the Lord for who He really is there is joy in heaven.

This story teaches us so much more than focusing on the lost son, but in staying focused on Christ through each bumpy road. It is not the circumstances that matter, it is the healing and letting go of the past. It is being ready with open arms when that child returns. I love when the father is speaking to his son who has been by his side. He says this to him; "His father said to him, look dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now is found."(vs 31-32) This father was so joyous in the return of his son. He didn't care of the past. He was only focused on now. Seeing his family complete brought instant healing for this father. I can see his tears of joy. I feel his passion as he sees his son walking toward home. I too can see the pain of this son who has been with his father. He is filled with anger, and resentment. He has watched his father fall apart, but his father shows him it's not about the past any longer. It is about forgiveness and healing. Making today the day we celebrate for we do not know what tomorrow will bring. So in this one moment let's find joy. The joy and peace we can only find in letting go and letting God.

As the Lord just washed this unconditional love over me throughout the night, leaving me with peace and hope, I pray you too will be blessed by this story of forgiveness and redemption. May today be the day you come home. Let go of yesterday and focus on today.
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