Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Prodigal A Ragamuffin Story by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett

This is one of those books that leaves you pondering long after the last page has been read. The story of the prodigal son is the basis for this novel. A story of redemption, forgiveness and deep love. A father and his son. Reunited. Leaving the past behind. Beginning new with covered grace. 

The prodigal son is a favorite. Mostly because I too am a prodigal. Ran to my Father, with His arms wide open, ready to accept me and love me unconditionally. This is a retelling of that story. Jack Chisholm is a pastor of a mega church. He has it all. In fact, he thinks he has built it all. He is the people's pastor. But Jack is a sinner. An imperfect being, called by the Father. People have placed him on a pedestal. What we forget about pastors is that they too are people. They too are sinners. Preaching is their calling. But when our eyes are taken off the Father things go wrong. Terribly wrong and we find ourselves in the bottom of a pit looking up. It's from there that we finally see Jesus is all we need. 

To tell you that I loved this story wouldn't be enough. Jack moved away from home. He hasn't been back for years. To the world his life looks perfect. Perfection is expected. Nothing less. Jack not only stumbles, he falls and falls hard. A secretary.  A moment of wrinkled sheets and partial memories is all that is left. He could blame it on the alcohol. But Jack doesn't want to blame anyone, especially not himself. He tries to push it off as not happening. He could never..but he did. 

What I love is that the authors didn't dive into all of Jack's sins. They didn't spend a lot of time with the whats and whys, but that he just took a wrong turn and found himself facing the consequences of his actions. He loses everything. One of my favorite parts of this story is found in chapter two. Jack is face to face with a member of the church. He knows. Instead of being a friend. He asks Jack the reasons he didn't just come to him first so he could help make things right. The church wants him to leave. He has embarrassed the members. It seems there are more political reasons for Jack to leave than any other. The people of the church are worried about how they will look to the world. He is told that if he could go before the church he could somehow earn forgiveness. Forgiveness isn't earned. It's a gift that can only come from the Father.

Jack is left to walk away. He disappears for a great while. He doesn't hear from anyone. It's almost as though he never existed. The bottle becomes his best friend. But there when Jack hits bottom the last person he ever expected to see is knocking and he isn't giving up anytime soon. Jack's father appears. No questions asked. No finger pointing. He simple says, "I'm come to take you home."  

From here the story continues to build. Jack returns home. Everything is the same, yet somehow different. Here is where we see the love of his father. Nothing is easy for Jack. Some are judging. Some greet him with mercy. But how this story ends brings us to know, without a doubt, that the Father never leaves His children. 

Jack comes home broken, but it is through this brokenness that he truly understands what is most important in life. He sees that the small things mean just as much if not more than the big things. 

This is a story that will bring you to look deeper into your own life. Life lessons are found all throughout this beautiful story. You may just find yourself within these pages. Things don't always turn out how we imagine, but then again, we have a God that surprises us with extraordinary. 

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 
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