I’d been committing this past 2018 to praying for “prodigals.” The word has some heavy connotations in our circles (evangelical, fundamental, whatever labels we get these days). We tend to view people as either following God or not following (which, if you boil it all down, God also tends to view people this way) but in our lack of compassion and understanding we also pass out judgment which is reserved for God alone.
That said, it has occurred to me while praying for a list of names that something else is going on. It’s a “meanwhile, back at headquarters” kind of thing. We tend to believe that where we are – as the righteous, God-fearing ones – is the right place to be and that if the prodigal person would just come here, all will be well. It’s a solid theory. It’s also a solid maybe.
Something that I was thinking about was how have I changed in the past year? In what ways have I matured – emotionally and/or spiritually – and specifically to thinking and praying for the prodigals on my list? Have I grown in compassion? Do I have a better sense of the longing and separation that God must feel for his own? Have I learned to rely more on the work of the Holy Spirit, knowing that no matter what I say or do (or don’t do as the case may be) only the power of God himself will change a person’s heart and mind?
And it hit me that maybe if I can’t think of any specific ways that I have grown personally in my walk with God this past year, that just maybe *I’M* the prodigal still! Maybe I’m too busy. Maybe I’m the one running away. Maybe I’m the one quenching the Spirit, not acknowledging the work that needs to be done in MY heart and mind, because I’m so focused on what that other person is /is not doing. Or maybe I’m that older brother who recounts in my head all the ways I’ve been “faithful” to the Father, just by staying put, but not really maturing at all. The older brother was lost, too. The older brother was a different kind of prodigal – the kind that didn’t even know he was lost. He had been extravagant in his rule-keeping and wreckless with his condemnation. Maybe he needed to come home too…
It’s soooo easy to coast.
When I first became a mom, I remember thinking if I can just get through this next hour, it will be better. Or if I just make it til the next nap time. The next meal. The next whatevers. And before I knew it, months had passed. Then I was thinking about how I just wanted everything to be easy. We got into a nice routine for a little stretch there. And then I got pregnant again.
What I wasn’t praying for was maturity. I was praying to just make it the next hour. And sometimes, that’s all you need. And don’t hear what I’m not saying, this is an every hour kinda thing. But there is no “coasting” in life. If we aren’t growing in wisdom and beauty, we are stagnating.
It’s so hard. it’s so complicated. Life is so overwhelming at times. Maybe you’re in that season. Cheer up! It can get worse!
Because maybe you’re sitting there thinking you’re the light, you’re the city on a hill. But if you stop and look around, you’ll see that there’s a bigger light, a brighter city that you have drifted far away from. You didn’t even realize it. You’ve been drifting off course and you don’t know how and you don’t know why. Maybe you’ve been coasting. Maybe you’ve just self-entertained. Oh it’s so easy to do. There’s no judgment coming from me. It’s my default.
But what I long for, what I pray for in praying for “the lost,” is a daily-renewed sense of purpose and more grace, growing both in my sense of my sinfulness and in the overwhelming outpouring of God’s grace for me. I *AM* the Lost. AND I am the Found. I was blind, but now I see. Oh for grace to know more and more of the love of Jesus for me, and for all. Oh to be fully known and fully loved. Oh to find such peace and hope.
Praying still… til we all come home…