Monday, February 5, 2018

When The Halo Breaks

Likely you know of the story of the prodigal son. A man demands his inheritance goes off and squanders it, only to come to his senses and return to find the Father waiting for him and running after him. The father then throws a party.

 Jesus continues Luke 15 “28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

We don’t know the rest of the brother’s story. Maybe he went to the party eventually. Maybe he played nice with his brother. He would always feel like the better person because after all he never left. His brother will always be the one who left and was welcomed back. But the one who stayed will always have that sense of self-righteousness and entitlement. Dad owes me because I’ve never left. What happens when life gets rocky for the son who stayed. When he feels like he isn’t getting what he “deserves”. He sees others getting more than what he feels they deserve. He labors and labors and sacrifices. When he sees the parties but forgoes them to labor some more wanting nothing more than the affection of the father. Wanting nothing more than to prove his worth.

I'll tell you what happens. He leaves too, but his road back is much harder. See the first son didn’t know if the father would take him back, he wanted only to work as a servant, but this son knows that he will be welcome back. So he goes a little further. He doesn’t hit financial rock bottom because he has seen how that turns out, he heard the story of eating pig slop, and when he left he vowed he would not stumble like is brother, rather he does it to prove to the family that he is fine on his own and that they will miss all that he did for them. He would make life on his own. He didn’t need anyone. He is wise enough to know the pitfalls but still too stupid to know what being at home meant. Being at home meant you were with the father. You didn’t have to fear. You didn’t have to wonder what was next. You could look storms in the face and know you’d get through them. When you are in step with the father there is nothing that can stop you. The son knows this. He gets further away,; living a life that displeases dad but still looking back to see if dad is waiting…He is. “He better be after what my brother did”. So he goes further and longer expecting at some point for the father stop waiting for him and calling him home.

To make things worse the father keep sending blessings in the mail. Grace upon grace coming in every direction, it infuriates the son but he cashes the checks anyhow. “he owes me” There are days when the son strolls closer to home but can’t push past what life he may or may not make on his own. There are times when he runs as fast as he can in the opposite direction. There are times of extreme guilt for the damage he caused when he left because he went out with a bang. Shame, depression, anxiety, and fear control the sons waking moments. Every now and then he continues to check and see if the father is waiting… He Is. “STOP, LOVING ME! I don’t deserve it! Look at what I have done, and to make things worse I knew better.” The son had spent his life telling people how great home was and here he is far from home with all those people telling him how great home is.

Does the son ever make it home? It will be very different. I may even be better than it ever was, but how can that be? He doesn’t deserve things to be better after all he has done. That’s not fair. He deserves to be banished from the family, he deserves for the world to turn their backs on him, but there he is every day, the father, waiting for him.

 I have not hit rock bottom the way the first son did, financially. But I may have hit in other ways. Even very recently. I have done and said things that I am ashamed of. I have hurt people, that have done nothing but offer me grace. I wish I could articulate the difficulty in coming home. I’ve been asked not to attend different churches, had people make it clear they wish I wasn’t at the church they were attending. This is all my doing. The bed that I have made. There are days when all I want is to be Home, and there are days when my pride will not accept the grace offered before me.

And there it is. Pride. It always comes before the fall.

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