For those that have felt a little lost recently and feel in their heart it’s time to return to God’s embrace I hope this message will encourage you and perhaps even provide some guidance. Even if you didn’t completely leave to go off and do your own thing like the prodigal son, it’s important to note that this walk is about relationship.
Ask any married person. Sometimes you could be married for years, still do activities together, still sleep in the same bed, eat dinner together every night, take the kids out on vacation every summer, and yet at some point that person felt like a complete stranger.
The same way, we can have God around us – we can go to church, participate in worship, read the little Bible scripture that your Bible app sends you every morning, but we know our relationship with God is not as close as it used to be.
Perhaps, you (like I have been many times) are at the point where you think “now, I know I need God, but I don’t even know where to begin or how to get back on track.”
My pastor always says something that I feel is very deep, “The Bible comes alive when you read it the right way.” What that means is that if we read the Bible like some folklore or fairy-tale, yeah it sounds good, and yeah there maybe some moral teachings embedded in it, but it’s not really going to cause much change in our lives.
But, if we read the Bible with the understanding that it is a real, living, and powerful source of truth with the ability to change our lives radically, then our lives will forever change.
First thing I want to set straight is that from the moment you decide you want to come home God is ready to celebrate with you.
“But, I feel dirty. You don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know where I’ve been.”
It doesn’t matter.
Luke 15:11–32 tells this very well-known story of a father who had two sons. His youngest son said, “give me my inheritance now”. It wasn’t time for him to receive this, the father was still alive! Can you imagine as a parent how the dad must have felt? Like, geez son… you couldn’t even wait until I croaked? I know I would have looked at my son crazy like you better get away from me with that crazy talk!
Then, the son decided he was going to turn up! He spent all his daddy’s money, he ended up broke, to the point where he considered eating pig food.
Does this sound familiar? Let me share my prodigal son version. “But God, I want to be married! I’ve waited long enough. I am going to get me a honey and that’s that!” Next, thing you know I am sitting here heart broken and disappointed. Exhausting all of my emotional strengths in a relationship God never told me to go after.
This is why I love this story… because even though the son decided to leave his father, spend HIS hard earned living on “turning up” or whatnot, when he comes home and the father sees him from a distance he welcomes him home. He doesn’t turn him away, as a matter of fact he threw him a party. He celebrated his arrival.
But, I’ve messed up too bad
No such thing. Let me tell you what will happen when you come home. Your clothes will be dirty, I know mines was. I was filthy. Filthy with guilt, shame, mistakes, depression, anxiety, I mean you name it I had it.
When my daddy saw me coming at a distance he took one look at me and welcomed me home. Not once, not twice, but three times! Not only did he welcome me home, but he saw my dirty clothes, cuts and bruises and he said, “here my daughter take this new robe.”
That’s what he did with the prodigal son:
“21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his servants,[d] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:21 – 24
Let me tell you, I have personally gotten to know God deeper through my mistakes. I am not saying this is a free pass to go off and wreak havoc or do things your way because let’s be honest the consequences stink!
I know most religious folk will tell you don’t sin because God is going to punish you, I know at times God will discipline us, but not in the form of punishment. Sin in and of itself is it’s own punishment.
Ask the man who cheated on his wife and now lost his family as a result of it, ask the girl who went after the wrong guy and now has to raise a child on her own, ask the person who committed car insurance fraud and now has a track record, or the friend who gossiped and lost her best friends trust… The consequences of our mistakes IS the punishment.
What God does is that he sets parameters for us so that we can be more like him bearing the fruits of the spirit (you know kindness, peace, joy, etc. – more on this at a later time). But he just wants to restore us to our rightful place.
After you have celebrated with your father and accepted his invitation to come back home to your rightful place, the next couple of steps will be to re-establish your relationship with him.
1. Talk to him.
The method: Prayer & Worship.
This is just sharing your thoughts and worries with him. This is asking him to help you. This is thanking him for life and your blessings.
The worship part usually is done in the form of singing or listening to worship music, but you can worship God by simply telling him thank you. All this really means is acknowledging that HE is God and you love him. It’s you expressing your love for him.
2. Get to know him.
The method: Reading the Bible.
Don’t groan! Here’s a tip to reading the Bible – imagine you are there as the stories unfold. Imagine that you are Peter walking on water and freaking all the way out because well… duh, you walking on water! Imagine Jesus extending his hand to you and chuckling… “yo son… you so scary!” My Jesus has a little bit of Miami in him, your Jesus might have a little bit of Utah, or Texas, or Mississippi. That’s OK. You’ll start to realize that the characters in the Bible were regular folk just like you and me and that many of their experiences can serve as guides for our lives as well.
3. Build a fortitude.
The method: Fellowship.
Now, if I have to be 100% honest this is my least favorite. I don’t really like getting to know people. I am not good at relationships. It’s just not really my niche, God is working in me and through me, so PLEASE be a little bit patient with me.
But, this is a really important one. Surround yourself with people that can guide you in the right direction. This means that your go-to person may need to be switched out. Cousin Pookie who always ready to throw down may need to take a back seat for a minute and you may need to reach out to Aunt Tammy who has been a Christian for quite some time and is caring and interested in seeing you grow. She can keep it real with you, but at the same time encourage you. If you don’t have someone on your team right now that you can depend on spiritually, don’t worry, pray on it and God will send you someone 🙂
You can also reach out to me. I will pray with you and for you. We are all in this together.