What do you do – when it hurts?
When the fear has gripped you, the pain no longer protects you and all you want to do is run? You know the feeling don’t you? The uncertainty, the unfamiliarity and in fact, sometimes the insanity! You just want to quit, give in, move on and not look back. Anything, just anything to get rid of the pain you posses and the pain that possesses you.
Like that storm that looms over the horizon is the weight of the world upon your shoulders. You often can see the clouds descend and move in as the sky shifts from the beautiful hues of blue to foreboding clouds of grey. There is a storm a comin’ and there is nothing you can do to stop it!
Allow me to share a story with you – perhaps you know it – soak it in again….
“There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’
“So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.
“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’
“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’
“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”
There is so much to share from this parable of the Lost Son, so much!
Consider the son – he approached his father requesting his inheritance. I don’t know about you, but I suspect that wasn’t an easy task. Maybe he did it full of pride, maybe not, Scripture doesn’t tell us. But he knew where to go, the Father! Then off he goes with the money – yes, all of it. He squanders it, wastes it and it dries right up. Do you think the Father knew his son would behave this way and lose this inheritance? Well of course He did – yet freely the Father gave to his son!
Verse 14 says, “After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt.” The son who had so much now had nothing at all. He was in need, he was hurting and fear had began to grip his heart. Scripture says he longed to feed on the pods and the slop left over from the pigs. Can you imagine? Being at a place of such hunger that you long to eat the scraps off the table? There he was hunger panged, destitute and weary – wanting relief. Empty.
Finally, the beautiful words…..he came to his senses!
Sigh. Why is it when we are overcome with pain, our senses get skewed? Our motivation, zapped. Our hope, dashed. It took the son to lose everything he ever possessed and trusted in to learn to let go. To release himself and realize he is not the one in control in the first place. The same Father he sought out for the inheritance in the first place, he can seek out again – not for a gift, no. For restitution, for repentance and forgiveness.
I love the Father’s response!
The Father is watching, waiting and searching for the return of His son. This is not some idle Father ticking off the days on the calendar waiting for his son to do the right thing . Oh no! This is an active Father seeking and longing for His son. In fact, Scripture says when he sees his son, he runs to him and embraces him. Wait, what? Runs and embraces – the first response of the Father is to hold his son! Before a word is spoken, the arms of the Father wrap around him in his shame, his guilt and his humiliation – and love him. No pointing finger, no shaking of the head or “I told you so’s.” Love.
As the son confesses he uttered harsh words revealing his despair “I am no longer worthy…” eeks out from the depths of his being. What does the Father do? So divine. He hears his son and immediately says, “but” – it’s almost like, “never mind that!” You think you aren’t worthy? Let me show you how worthy you are! The Father was so overcome with joy that the time had come to celebrate. Did you catch that? He didn’t focus on the just the words, but the sons heart. He didn’t ask for him to grovel to redeem himself, the Father gave again – and forgave! This forgiveness must have tasted so much richer to the son than the inheritance, don’t ya think?
How marvelous the Father’s love! Will we ever fully comprehend His love?
What happened when his brother came home from working in the fields and heard the celebration? He was overcome with anger and even refused to participate in the celebration. He had been faithful and honored his Father. It seems he has a reason to be upset, perhaps even justified in his anger. Yet, focus on the Father’s response. He reassures his son of the joy in being in relationship with him, but insists – we had to celebrate – “This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”
Such good news, this Father’s love. This waiting, searching, redeeming, forgiving love. This love that’s not looking at the blessings I have squandered, the wealth I have lost, the time I have mismanaged – the brokenness in relationships, the pain I hold onto to. For the Father searches for me in the same way He searched for his son. He rejoices in communion with me and he assures me of the sovereignty of his grace and embraces me as I return to Him, again and again.
For you see, I am a prodigal.
You may be like me and allow the storms of life to overtake you. Hear the wind whip up and find yourself cowering. You may yearn for the pods that at cast upon the floor as unmentionables. You might be tempted to reject the Father’s love, refuse to celebrate with joy as we witness His grace poured out for others.
Beloved. Focus on the Father’s love and not one thing more.
Not the inheritance lost, but the one gained! Feel the arms of the Father envelope you as you walk into His embrace for He’s been searching for you all along. Are you a prodigal? It’s okay! Come to your senses my friend.