Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Prodigal Hope

                I received a phone call yesterday afternoon. A phone call I had been waiting on for some time. Day after day, night after night I have been in prayer for this young woman.  She walked away from the Lord many years ago and the life that she has been living has been one of worldliness and brokenness. But in my heart I held onto the hope that God would do a work in her and that one day she would come back to Him. Halfway through the conversation she said something to me that showed me an area of my life as well that I struggle with and her words reminded me of grace. That grace of God which we all have been given, that grace that leads us to repentance, that grace that leads us to come home, even when we are covered in the filth of this world.
               She said to me that she realized that she had been fighting God. That she had gone her own way and turned her back on the Lord. She saw her need for Christ in her life, and knew that she God was speaking to her heart to come back to Him. All the struggles in her life, all the stress and troubles were a result of her turning away from God. So she said to me that she wanted to get right with Him again. She needed to come back. But she said that she also knew certain things in her life had to change. She basically told me that she needed to get right and clean herself up before she could come back. That is when I told her not to forget about grace. The Lord reminded me of the story of the Prodigal Son, and she and I talked about how God’s grace is seen through this story. Today, as I read through the story once again, I too was reminded of the grace of God in my life and how desperately I need it too.  
                We all probably know the story of the Prodigal son nestled in the pages of Luke 15. This son was part of a family. His father loved him and had prepared an inheritance for him. The prodigal son wanted to break out on his own and do his life his way instead of the way the Father wanted him to live. So, off the prodigal son went. The word prodigal means wasteful. It means to squander away things that you have. Most of us when we think about prodigal living, we automatically think about money, and that this kid probably was living it up- spending money on just about anything and everything he wanted. But as I read the story again, I thought about all the things in my life that I have been wasteful about. Time for me is something that I waste, and also an area of my life that the Lord has been speaking to me about. I waste a lot of time doing things that I know I don’t need to do. But I still do them. I waste the time the Lord has given me on things that have no purpose or meaning other than to fulfill my own heart’s desires. We all have areas of our lives that we are choosing to live in the prodigal way, but there is always grace, grace to come back to the One who is waiting for us.
                The prodigal son realizes that he has been living apart from his father, and that the life that he had with him was much better than the one he has now. He realizes his need for his father in his life and decides that he is going to come back home. This was very similar to the conversation I had with the young lady yesterday. She too realized that she needed to come home, but she wasn’t exactly sure how to do it. Much like the prodigal son, she was trying to make a plan, make a way to come back. She was looking at all the things in her life that needed to change so that she could make her way back to her Father’s house.
                “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’” Luke 15:17-19
                Much like the prodigal son we all try to make ourselves right before we take that step back towards God. I know the areas of my life that the Lord wants to work in. The time that I spend wasting away in and on things that don’t matter bother me on a daily basis. I know I need to change that about my life, but I also know that no amount of my efforts will ever bring the change that is needed. The prodigal son made a plan. He realized his need and how desperately he needed to be under his father’s care again, but yet he did what every single one of us do- he planned on how he was going to get back under the roof of the house.
                When we make a plan to get right before we come back, we have forgotten what it means to be under the grace of God. Just like the prodigal son prepared what he was going to say and how he was going to say it, we too do the same thing. We tell the Lord that we will come back when we get “this” out of our life, or when we begin to do “this”, or when “this” happens. We try to prepare ourselves to come back to the Lord by planning, making a goal, or by determining to make a fresh start. We plan and prepare, we determine in our hearts to get ourselves right, but the whole time the Father is just waiting for us to take that first step. Look at what happens in verse 20.
                “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off his father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
                The father sees his son even though the son is miles away from him. Our Father sees us too. He sees our hearts that desire to come back to Him. He sees our hearts that desire to change for His glory. He sees the very depths of our hearts and knows that we are ready to come home. The prodigal son did not have to clean the pig smell off his clothes before the father would greet him. He did not have to get a good meal in him before he arrived. All the son had to do was take the first step towards the father; the father then ran the rest of the way. This is grace my friends. This is what it means to come to Jesus as you are. You do not need to change anything about yourself, or clean yourself up before you come. Just take that first step toward the Father and He will run the rest of the way to you. He knows when we are ready to make the changes in our lives and fall back into His waiting arms. He runs to us when we are ready to take that first step- all we have to do is take it.
               No matter what we are doing, or not doing, all the Father is asking of us today is to take that first step, and when we do He will run the rest of the way and cover us and clean us up in His grace. Maybe you are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction and think that you can’t come to Jesus if you are still practicing these things. Perhaps you are living a sinful lifestyle and want to try to live right before you come home because you think He won’t accept you as you are. Please hear me when I say this- all you have to do is come to Him, take that first step towards Him. He sees your heart, and He sees all of you, yet He has compassion for you. He has love ready to greet you when He throws His arms around you. He does not need you to clean yourself up, because His grace will do that all for you. Just take that step of faith today and let His grace do the rest. He will run to you, He will greet you with open arms. He will fall on you with kisses, and tears of rejoicing and say “My child has come home!” Just take that step and let His love and grace do the rest. Amen?

Take some time today and read the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15:11-24. See the grace of God nestled in the pages, see the love and the compassion that the Father has for you. Then, just come. Come as you are- no need to change or get things right- just come, and watch in hope as the Father runs to greet you with love, compassion, and grace. In Jesus Name, amen and amen.