Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Running Father

We talked in Glow this week about the story Jesus told in Luke 15:11-32 about the prodigal son. I love that many people call it The Story of the Running Father! Because this story is truly an illustration of the extravagant love of Father God. Your Father. My Father. How He seeks us out, no matter what. We see the father in Jesus’ story looking for the homecoming of the younger son. We see him running—running!—to the one who left him on purpose. We see him seeking out the older son when he didn’t show up for the party. I love that Jesus painted such a beautiful word picture of the undeserved grace, mercy, and forgiveness that our Heavenly Father offers each of us.

And because Jesus is such an amazing Storyteller, Picture-Giver, we can catch a glimpse of ourselves in this family drama, too. Maybe you see yourself in the prodigal—the younger son running away from the Father, seeking extravagance, when extravagant love was all the while right in front of him at home, with his father. Or maybe you struggle with receiving that extravagant love now, even though you came home long ago. Maybe you see yourself in the older brother—unable to join the party because you can only focus on what you didn’t get, what you don’t have.

First and foremost, if you’ve run away from God, the Good Father, for any reason at all—run back! He is your home. He is where you belong. He awaits your homecoming. Not with crossed arms and punishment—no, your punishment has already been doled out. Don’t take my word for it--
1 Peter 2:24 “He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross”

He awaits you with arms wide open. Full of love and forgiveness.

Back home, but having trouble accepting that forgiveness? You must. Hear me—you must. Accepting the love and forgiveness of the Father isn’t simply a thread of Christianity. It’s the whole thing. If we don’t believe God can forgive us, we don’t believe Him at all. When I have struggled with this, Isaiah 53:5 has given me such hope: “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” So much promise is one passage. The price for my peace was upon Him. He paid it. Already. I know you may think you don’t deserve peace, but that is irrelevant, really. He has already paid the price for it! So accept the gift that has already been purchased. Receive forgiveness. And if God offers it to you, who are you to withhold it from yourself?

Maybe you recognize yourself in the older brother. Bitter. Resentful. Don’t be that way—listen to what the father told him: “Everything I have is yours”, Luke 15:31. Isn’t all He has yours? What does it cost you to rejoice with those who rejoice? You’re only hurting yourself when you refuse to join the party the Father is throwing.

The Super Bowl reminded me how many of us become the older brother in the first place. Did you see all those fans shouting from the sidelines?! “I know a better way!” “Do this!” Listen—I know nothing about football. I come for the snacks. So when I begin shouting from the sidelines, you can’t really listen to me.

I mean, I had a lot of opinions about the Super Bowl. But you can’t listen to any of them. I’m shouting from the sidelines. I haven’t spent untold hours practicing, lifting weights, learning plays, watching film. I’m just shouting from the sidelines. I don’t know what it feels like in the heat of the moment with the roar of the crowd and an adversary staring at me through his helmet. I’m just shouting from the sidelines. I don’t know what it's like to catch the football and in a split second have to change the play because an opponent is upon me. I’m just shouting from the sidelines.

How insane would it be for Tom Brady to listen to me?! “Time out, guys. There’s this lady over here who is giving me some instructions.”
And yet. We tend to listen to those on the sidelines in our lives. Probably in an attempt to prove them wrong, or to show we know more, or to please. Whatever it is, its wrong.  They’re just shouting from the sidelines.

Don’t shout from the sidelines. How do you do this, or not do this? Get involved in your own life. Run your own race. It's much more fun, much more fulfilling, believe me. Don’t live life from the sidelines looking into others’ lives and shouting your “expert” opinion.

If you are fully engaged with the life God has given you—seeking Him for help, living for Him, being the best mom or wife or friend or woman you can be, then you won’t feel the need to live someone else’s life for them. You’ll simply be too busy, too full. And when you do shout from the sidelines, it will sound more like this—“You can do it! You can make it! Keep going! Look to Jesus—He is the Author and Finisher of your faith! If you don’t quit, you can’t lose!”

These are just my thoughts on this story. I encourage you to read it for yourself today. God’s Word is so dynamic—we are told it is living and active!—and He has things for you in there for wherever you are on your journey. Whether you’re separated from Him, whether you’re struggling with guilt, whether you’re struggling with bitterness, whether you are safely and securely and blissfully in His arms. He’s in this life FOR you. Let Him guide you! He does that through His Word.

Wherever you find yourself today, I hope you end the day closer to God than when you began it. Love you all!