it's not you, it's me
Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible someone ever reads. William J. Toms
A friend who I love very much was agnostic. She believed there conceivably was someone, something "mystical" about the universe and all it held, but did not believe it was possible to label. Intelligent, she did concede that Christ certainly existed as historical evidence made it impossible to deny his life and lasting impact. Her summation was that He was a great man. That's a start. We got into a discussion about faith. She essentially explained that she had been a passionate Christian as a child and teen. She stood on street corners inviting people to church and sharing her faith, but her life was full of hardships. She was engaged to a man and they were living together in her early 20s when she conceived. The day she came home to share her news, her fiance greeted her as she walked in with, "we need to talk." She sat down and he explained that he was breaking their engagement. Their was a girl at the office... She went on to raise her child alone. It was challenging. Years later she got into a relationship with a man very prominent in her field. She was a little star struck. He was separated from his wife. Now in her 30s, they became very close and she conceived. Their relationship crumbled soon after when she refused to abort. He had raised his children and wasn't looking to start over. Her last relationship was to a man everyone warned her about. Her mother pleaded with her not to marry him sensing something malevolent, but she loved him... Soon after they married he "lost" his job. She was now the sole provider. In addition, he became abusive physically and emotionally to her and her children and went on to just about clean out her retirement fund resulting in his eventual arrest. There were other accounts of painful situations that all culminated in a final jabbing comment. Snarlingly, as she was understandably very emotional, she said, "if there is a God, how could He let all of that happen to me?" There was so much pain and brokenness. By the grace of God the answer was clear, she was pointing the finger of blame in the wrong direction, but how to say it. I remember a good friend shared with me once that people will often tell you what you want to hear, but love risks the relationship. So, speaking the truth in love, Ephesians 4:15, I began. As she was a person who was taught the word from childhood, I pointed out that she spent much of her life walking outside of God's will but expecting His blessings. I have children I love dearly. I gave birth to them. My husband and I have loved and tended to them like the precious and amazing people they are. That being said, you can give your child a hammer and teach him how to build a birdhouse, hang a picture, etc.. but with the same hammer that child can choose to break a neighbors window. Every person has free will. As parents we hopefully do our best to teach, equip, and build character in our children, then a day comes that with every bit of good we poured in, they choose which way they will go. I think most of us are prodigals. Luke 15:11-32 I was. You try things "your own way." After some bumps and bruises many come back. Coming back looks different for everyone, for some it is a comes on like a lightning bolt. There is a moment of realization and it begins a life long transformation. For some, like my good friend, it comes in stages. I pointed out that while she was walking in God's will, He blessed her abundantly. That is when her career was launched, as a teenager! She was in the news. A darling of high society and then began the fall. The more she got absorbed into that world, the more muted the Holy Spirit within her became until there was not even a whisper. Her fall was hard and she was hitting many branches on the way down while shaking her fist at God, but she was up a tree she was never meant to climb and in fact God warned her explicitly not to. Still, in her heart, every bump and bruise was God's fault... I think one great message of the Prodigal Son is the picture of a Father letting go while understanding he has loved and equipped his child. He also respects his son's individuality and right to choose. The son goes off and lives wildly. Things were hunky dory until the things his father gave him ran out. On his own and without his fathers guidance and provisions, as he had shoved them far away, things got ugly. Wishing he could eat the pigs food because he was starving to death ugly. In no way was his situation, pain or suffering his fathers fault. Certainly his father was not causing it or "allowing it to happen." The son chose his circumstances with his choices. It is the pain of those choices that brought him home. He realized in his separation from his father the joy and peace and provision he had under his fathers's loving, watchful eye and authority. His father loved him and knew best. He missed that when he started focusing on the have not's rather than the haves. He went home and in humility said to his father who ran to meet him as he saw him approaching, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son . He said this in hopes that his father would take him back as a hired man because he realized no matter his position, life was better when he was close to his father. His fathers response? His father said to his servants, ‘Quick, bring out a robe, the best one, and put it on him; and put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet; and bring the calf that has been fattened up, and kill it. Let’s eat and have a celebration! For this son of mine was dead, but now he’s alive again! He was lost, but now he has been found!’ And they began celebrating.
God loves His children. He is abounding in grace and His mercies are new EVERY morning. For those living apart from His will, today is a great day to start back to your Father. The journey begins on your knees in prayer and in His word. If you have questions, feel free to email Rob or I. For those who know and love the Lord, be patient with those who don't. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a right to pursue their own path, but be prepared to give an answer for the joy you have when hearts open and questions are asked. Be a workman prepared. Continue to speak the truth in love. Your life is a ministry. Every action and every word. As best you can, let them be beholden to God watch your life and doctrine closely, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”