God often speaks to us in the middle of the night (See 1 Samuel). Maybe waking us up gets our attention as it just feels more important. Therefore I am learning to resist the temptation to go back to sleep, but rather to write stuff down. Here goes then…
It is 3am and I have just woken up with the very strong thought that sadly everybody who walks away from God and the Church often returns (months or even years later) and expresses frustration at the time or opportunities that they have wasted with their being away. Regardless of the fact that God works together all things for the good of those that love him, they still have that tangible sense of waste.
This made me think of the parable of the two sons (often called the parable of the lost son or prodigal son). I have just re-read it, thought I’d make these points and then I am back to sleep!
One son wasted a good proportion of his time, money and self-respect by rejecting his Father and family.
Walking away from God and the church is like this.
Eventually he came to his senses.
Thankfully my experience has been that many who do this come to their senses. Sadly, it is often years later and their sense of waste is tangible. I personally wasted 3 years of my life this way!
His Father saw him coming.
Someone recently taught me that the church needs to imitate the Father not the other brother. We should be waiting, hoping, expectant and compassionate upon their return. A good expression might be that at night we should always leave the door unlocked and the lights of the house on. It is never a waste of electricity! As you never know when the son will want to return.
Here is the full story if you don’t know it:
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die. ’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. 13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. 17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ 20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. ’ 22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found. ’ So the party began. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ 28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf! ’ 31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found! ’” Luke 15