I grew up in church. Baptized at 5 years old, proudly proclaiming my faith and coming up grinning at the water dripping from my baby face.
I learned a lot about rules in church, enough to realize by 11 years old that I was basically doomed to be a failure. Add to it un-diagnosed attention deficit disorder and the gift of almost instant assimilation of information - I spent much of my childhood in trouble.
I remember sitting in the pew (number 89, every week - we were Baptist) and listening to the story of the prodigal son, wondering if anyone would ever be that overjoyed to see me come home. If God is reflected in our parents, then God was tired, slightly annoyed most of the time, and just needed me to be quiet, get my work done, and stop making a fuss.
When I hit my 20's life began to heat up. I escaped the cult with my faith in God more or less intact. I came home and attended a local college, and met a local young man who seemed too good to be true. (Say it with me now...) I couldn't believe my good fortune. Even as we were driving to the church, my father was offering me $5,000 and a trip to Atlantic City if I'd turn the car around. (#45987 things I wished I'd done differently)
Flash forward 9 months - my husband is heading to court for shoplifting, we're in counseling for his pornography addiction, he's been diagnosed an obsessive/compulsive liar, and now his fists ball up when I question his spending habits. Oh... boy....
When the divorce is finalized, I'm now THE black sheep of our very conservative family. My Mennonite aunt sends me letters and tapes begging me to reconsider. All of the sudden, I'm that prodigal... eating the pigs' food and dreaming of days when my only sin was not paying attention to the sermon.
So if the cult didn't turn me away from my faith, divorce broke me. I was A.N.G.R.Y. I felt betrayed by God (never mind it was my idea against the advice of a wise dad) and decided I was done. I turned my back on God and what followed was two years of a very dark time. Promiscuity, drinking, complete abandonment of my faith and the life principals I'd been raised to respect.
Until that night.
I woke up in the middle of the night, alone in my apartment. (My Christian roommate had left, a childhood friend I drove away with my carousing.) I had the distinct impression that I wasn't alone. I sat up, very awake, and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw It.
There in the far corner of my room was a writhing mass of black with sharp, gleaming eyes. It was contained, I could tell, but not by what. As I watched, it moved like a thousand snakes with something on its tail - but all the while never took its eyes off of me.
In an instant, I knew. I had rejected Jesus and here was one to take His place. (Matthew 12:45) Time. To. Choose.
Being a prodigal instantly lost its romantic allure. I sat there, cowering, until the light came through the windows. Within days I had given up my apartment, confessed my waywardness to my parents, and moved back into their house. There wasn't a fattened calf for me. Just a 24 year old with her tail between her legs and a curfew.
Today's verses reveal the heart of our Heavenly Father: He'll do whatever it takes to bring us to Him. He has come to RELEASE, RECOVER, FREE, and PROCLAIM. His focus is on the lost. Always has been.
As I read these verses and I thought back, I realized that it's so true, "the Father of lights... does not change..." (James 1:17)
As His followers, we have responsibilities in this crazy time:
I have no idea if we are in the 'end times' or not. It really doesn't matter, my (our) purpose is the same regardless - our souls safe in Him, we are to do His will, follow His leading, trust His plans, and gather and care for His sheep.
Especially the ones wandering in the desert - and then throw a party for everyone single one we bring home.
Read the bible verses and study at She Reads Truth - Celebration