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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Being Found

  For many years, I had read the story of the lost son. I took in the words of Luke 15: 11-32 and tried to discern Jesus' meaning. I sat through numerous sermons and heard the same message...over and over again: God welcomes home lost people. God forgives.
 But recently, I have started to come around to a different view of this short but meaningful parable. Thanks to two books - AHA by Kyle Idleman and The Return of The Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen - a new message is emerging in my soul...
  I sit in my room and listen to the whitewater river rushing past my home. Nine words come to mind: God wants to find me in my lost condition. I consider this radical thought. Perhaps it might be the key to a further spiritual awakening. For most of my walk with God, I did not see myself as a prodigal: I didn't walk off and live the world's way; I stayed near the Father. That story is for the really lost people, I used to say, for the ones who don't know God. I know God. But, in looking closer, I realize that the lost son left because his heart was far from his father even before he went to the "distant country." Before he had walked out the door and headed toward a reckless life, he was already lost. He was a prodigal in the father's home. He couldn't seem to allow himself to be loved by his father. He didn't think the father was enough...
  I think back a few years: maybe I, too, was lost in the Father's home. Every week I sat in church, but my soul was darkened. There was no light. I was empty. I was lost, but I had left without fully walking away. The prodigal son and I were surrounded by the love of the Father but, He was somehow not enough. The wandering years in the "distant country" were the result. Not until the famine of the soul hit - not until I was in want, until everything else had failed me, and I had nothing left, did it occur to me that the Father's house is filled with countless blessings and that those who live there never lack for any good thing. He is enough. For so many years, I was very wrong about who He was. The Father had given me so much more than I deserved, yet I was blind to the love that was there for me.
  In time, His relentless pursuit of my wandering soul led me to the conclusion which I now sit pondering: God wants to find me, even when I'm lost in His house. God wants to bless me with everything He has to offer, to give me His best because I belong to Him. In my spirit, He whispers to me, "...You are always with me, and all I have is yours" (Luke 15:31). I hear Him speak those life-giving words...I hear...but the prodigal in me still, at times, fights the freely-given grace. I still try to "walk away" even while I am with Him. The true embracing comes when I realize that God has never stopped pursuing. He has never stopped seeking me. He wants to bring alive the dead places in my heart, to bring light to those hidden corners where I like to hide. God wants to find me because He loves me. Yes...He. Loves. Me! Even when I find the "distant country" at times more appealing, He is always looking for a way to keep me - keep me where I belong: at His side, in my Father's house.