Thursday, June 26, 2014

Raising Hope

I have heard this story many times
I have read it for myself
But, for some reason it is only now that I wonder how he did it...
how he stood there and watched him walk away...

One of the wonderful things about the Bible is that it never gets old.
Just because a passage has been taught or read, 
does not always mean there is nothing left to learn from that passage.

Hence...the story of the prodigal son. Luke 15:11-32

As of late, my eyes have been opened to a particular facet of this parable. 
I have shared my thoughts with anyone who cared to listen.
I am still learning, 
still trying to fully understand.

In the past I have focused on the sons in this parable, 
but due to my current season in life, 
I have been more and more intrigued by the father.
I find myself feeling the depth of love and loss that he must have felt.

How did he do it?

Mind you, this parable is to point us back to our heavenly Father 
and how he never gives up on His children.

But, when I read this parable as a parent of young adult children, 
I find myself pondering...
How am I to respond to my own children 
when they do things that I know are not good for them?
What is my role when they leave home and decide 
that all the wisdom and investment that has been given to them 
is theirs to squander?

Although there is little written about the father of the prodigal son, 
because I too am a parent, I can imagine that
His heart was broken. 
And yet, we do not see even a hint of anger 
or negative emotional reaction to the actions of his son.

How did he do it?

I think on this even now, 
for I too have had my heart broken
In the breaking I felt 
taken advantage of....
I did not react as I should
The words that came out of my mouth, 
were from a place of pain and desperation.
I was not looking at the big picture, 
but instead at the heat of the moment.

But not this father...
He gave the son what he requested of him 
and then watched him walk away

He did not desperately run after him

He did not try to talk him into staying

There was no manipulation or enabling

He let him go...

How did he do it?

It does not tell us in scripture, 
but I have some thoughts after reading the whole story...
Could it be that as he watched his son walk away 
that he was clinging to the facts 
and not the emotions of the history he had with this boy?

He had done what he could to raise his son right.

And this is where I must cling as well...
With God's help, I am able to say, I too tried to raise my children right. 
Pointing them to the heavenly Father, 
teaching them right from wrong, 
giving them the skills they would need when they were old.

And I too must stand still and watch them walk away...

Could it be that he was assured that he had done all that he could do, 
for now...
knowing in his heart that there would come a time 
when he would see him again?
We do not know how long it was 
from when his son left to when he finally came back home.

The waiting and the not knowing...this is where my faith is tested.

I love the part of this story where it says 
in verse 20, 
"But while he (the son) was still a long way off, 
his father saw him, 
and felt compassion for him, 
and ran 
and embraced him, 
and kissed him."

There is so much here.
What was the father doing and feeling 
between the time of watching his son leave until this moment?
He was waiting and watching, 
for he saw his son coming while he was still a long way off.
He never gave up hope. 
He did not allow his son's leaving to paralyze him either. 
He had an estate to run 
and so in the waiting he continued to do what needed to be done.

I too must follow this model as I let go of my children
I wait
I watch
I work at the thing that God has currently set before me to do
and I do all of this simultaneously. 
I hope
I pray
I wait
I watch
I work...

He actively loved his son even as he was absent, 
as soon as he saw him he felt compassion for him.
He ran to him, 
he did not stand and wait for him to get to where he was. 
As soon as he saw his son coming his way, 
he ran to receive him, 
to embrace him, 
to kiss him.

I too must follow this model...
when my children turn towards me, 
I too should run to meet them, receive them.
I hope that my children always know 
that there is a safe warm place for them in my heart. 
They can always come home, 
no matter how long or far they go.

This parable is about more than a wayward selfish son
it is about a father who never gave up, 
who continued to love, 
who waited 
and watched 
and who somehow had instilled in his wayward son 
that he could always come home.

Lastly, he was patient as he waited for things to work out.

I too must be patient
my favorite verses on the subject is in Romans 5:1-5
I think "The Message" paraphrase sums it up nicely...

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us--
set us right with Him,
make us fit for Him--
we have it all together with God 
because of our Master Jesus.
And that's not all:
We throw open our doors to God and discover
at the same moment that
He has already thrown open His door to us.
We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand--
out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory,
standing tall and shouting our praise.
There is more to come:
We continue to shout our praise
even when we are hemmed in with troubles,
because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us,
and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue,
keeping us alert to whatever God will do next.
In alert expectancy such as this,
we are never left feeling shortchanged.
Quite the contrary--
we can not round up enough containers to hold
everything God generously pours into our lives
through the Holy Spirit!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Perspective is everything

It has been over a year 
I really cant even begin to comprehend all that God has done
all that He has stripped, chipped and carved away
the way that He has molded what remains

I have been using the last few months to meditate on these things
struggling to put into words this past year,
but coming up short.

Some of my friends and family are very aware 
of all that has happened this past year.
For some it must have appeared 
that the steadfast girl that I have come to be 
was becoming unraveled.

For others they were able to watch 
with much anticipation 
for what would emerge 
at the end of it all.

And so...
here I am
still standing
but with another fantastic layer 
of understanding the character of My God.

This type of understanding 
can only be found in perspective,
in the looking back
through the clear lens of experience and brokenness.

For like most 
I have dreamed of what this season of my life would hold
but instead of seeing those dreams come true
I was given something else entirely

through it all, 
I had a choice to make as I watched MY dreams fade away
Do I stay in grief for what will never be?
Do I run after MY dreams?
Do I quiet myself long enough to listen to God's calling on my life?

It looks like the answer is simple 
when it is written down in words...

but it is not

the choice is not easy

some days it is a moment by moment 
heavy hearted movement 
in the direction that is clearly laid out by God...

days when my feet feel weighted down by sorrow and reluctant longing
days when my eyes struggle to open for they feel glued shut with all my yesterdays

days when my hands are stiff with memories of the familiar movements of the past

His mercies are new every morning
How gentle He has been with me as I have let go

He has answered every prayer
wiped every tear
held me closer
and graciously showed me 
that He knows my dreams 
and His are so much better.

All of this would have been impossible to understand 
without the perspective of this past year.

I have been quiet
and I can see all that God accomplished
new season
new home
new church
new friends
new path
new vision
new role
trusting Him to take care of those I miss
my children
my parents
my friends

He promised me He had it all under control
Now I see
He did
and He does

Psalm 90: 12-17 (The Voice)
Teach us to number our days
so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom.
How long will we wait here alone?
Return, O Eternal One, with mercy.
With every sun's rising, surprise us with Your love,
satisfy us with Your kindness.
Then we will sing with joy and celebration every day we are alive.
You have spent many days afflicting us with pain and sorrow;
now match those with years of unspent joy.
Let your work of love be on display for all Your servants;
let your children see Your majesty.
And then let the beauty and grace of the Lord--our God--rest upon us
and bring success to all we do;
yes, bring success to all we do!