Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When God Ran

One of my favorite passages in all the Bible is the parable of the prodigal son in Luke. "There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father give me the share of his property that will belong to me.' So he divided the property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spend everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son, treat me like one of your hired hands."' So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still a far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to celebrate.

"Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called on of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has got him back safe and sound.' Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, 'Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed you command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!' Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'"

I often refer to this passage as my testimony. I left my godly home and loving family and spent years in deep sin and sadness. The parallels in the passage and my choices are very similar. The prodigal son ended up working with pigs which in the Jewish religion was about as low as you could go. I ended up working for a known cocaine dealer, using drugs and doing all kinds of immoral things to survive. In my most desperate moments I would pray for help to find my way home, but it seemed impossible. In His perfect time God worked to move me from the depths and He ran to me. I am still amazed. I have never once questioned why God allowed me to stray so far for so long. I know for sure I never understood the meaning of God's mercy and forgiveness until He met me on that road stinking of sin and starving, and He put His finest robe on me and prepared a feast for me at the table of grace.

The father in this story is saddened by his son who has followed the letter of the law but who's heart rejects his father's decision to welcome his brother with open arms. Our Father's love, just like the father in this story, chooses the sinner not the righteous to be saved and celebrated. One of my greatest stumbling blocks to returning home and to the church was a deep fear of telling my story. Growing up in a church full of what seemed like "good" people, I had never really seen God's children with open arms for truly "bad" people--people who maybe smell, have lots of tattoos and skirts too short. People who were maybe in the bar the night before or even on the street corner. I love that Jesus was never afraid to be with those kinds of people, for they are the ones He came to seek and save.

As I read this again tonight I began to pray that I would not be the other brother in the prodigal story of someone else trying to find their way home. I prayed that God would give me opportunities to tell of when He ran to me, especially to sinners, people who really need to be rescued and redeemed. Thank You for being the Father who gave Your own Son's life to adopt me. Thank You for returning those "wasted" years of my life in lessons learned about amazing love and unending forgiveness and grace.


SuzyQ said...

manuelle4God Bless you for your courage in writing this.
Having gone through a similar situation myself I know how hard it is to "go" back there.
Yet through sharing your truth you give hope to others.
The hardest thing for me is that where I am now, I can really see how Jesus was there with me through it all. Protecting me in the darkest places, gently guiding me towards the light, even though I never noticed or acknowledged him at all at the time.
And I think of Mary Magdalene who loved so much because she had been forgiven so much.
By the way )I have an award over at my place for you
Blessings and Peace

SuzyQ said...

Sorry something odd happened at the begining of my comment mmm. That's what happens when you have two pages open at once I guess ;0P

Greg R. said...

My dear Monica, how much I thank God for His love and mercy to you. I sometimes think of Jesus' words about the that sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet in the Pharisee's house. He told the Pharisee, "...he who is forgiven little, loves little." There is no degree in our sinfulness. We all owe God the same for His love and mercy. But, I think it is true that we don't all have the same sense of the wonder and amazement and depth of God's love because we don't all feel the same sense of the sinfulness of our sin. I thank God for you and for His grace to you. I love you so very much.


Rochelle said...

How I praise God for His abundant mercy to us as sinners! His love is amazing! Rochelle