Sunday, December 30, 2007

Which Son Are You?

I love Bible stories. It's not because of the story they tell. It's because of the message that is hidden within the story. God's story is written on the hearts of men and women. Though the Bible is chocked full of dysfunctional familes, each family narrative has a message of God. It's not just about how He came through for them and delivered them. It's about how they found Him in the midst of life.

Take the Prodigal Son story. How many pictures do you see in this story? It's all about love and receiving love. For years I only saw the Prodigal Son, the older brother and the Father, but now I see there is so much more hidden in the story line.

The Prodigal Son wants what he is to inherit when his father dies. He doesn't want to wait, he wants it now. After all he wants to leave the Father's house and go out and find life. So he goes to the Father, asks for his money and leaves. He doesn't need life with the Father, he only wants what the Father can give to him. Basically his father is only good for what he will inherit. Some of us want the inheritance of God without the relationship with the Father.

He goes out squanders all that he has and comes to the point where he realizes that the life he's living isn't cutting it. Something is missing. So he leaves the pigpen and heads home hoping that his father will just let him be a hired hand. Some of us think that what we have done is so bad that we can't consider coming to the Father to live in his house. We are happy just living as a slave to a master. God released us from the chains of slavery not to be enslaved any longer.

The Father sees the son returning, grabs his royal robes in His hands and runs out to meet him. He is delighted that His Son has returned and throws a party for him. The older brother has been there all along working hard for the Father in the fields. He is enraged with the treatment his brother receives. After all his brother considered his father as good as dead, left home, squandered his inheritance and now he has the gall to return home. He stands by and watches while His Father not only embraces him but throws a feast. All he can think about is why he has not had that kind of treatment. After all he has been there all along working hard for the Father. Some of us think that if we work hard for God it will earn us a place in His house and heart. Our value is tied up in the law and what we can do. The Father waits to welcome us into His house to be loved, just like the Father in the story. But somehow our identity is so tied up in what we can do, we don't know how to just "be" His.

The Prodigal embraces the Father, the Father puts robe on his back and a ring on his finger, symbolizing his place in the heart of the Father. And the Son is restored. The older brother confronts the Father and the Father tells him, "Son, all I have has always been yours." Some of us come to the end of our ability to find life and see the destitution and, like the Prodigal we enter in fully allowing the Father to wrap us up in His love and bring us into covenant with Him. Some of us like the older brother feel it is our work that makes us worthy and just can't seem to enter in and be wrapped up in love without doing something to earn it. We can't seem to stop "doing" and learn to just "be" in relationship with Him.

And then there is the Son that was telling the story, Jesus. He was perfect love. He knew the Father loved Him and He loved the Father. He embraced the love of the Father and His whole purpose was to show us what He was like. He didn't have to do anything to earn the Father's love. He knew he was loved because He was His Son. Some of us get that. We know that we are loved. It's not about what we do.. It's about who He is. He is perfect love who has created us to be loved.

For more years than I can remember I was the older brother. I remember my grandmother saying "you gotta earn your keep."
So I tried. I spent many years like the older brother working FOR God instead of just being WITH God. There is a difference, a HUGE difference. It is in the being with Him that I have entered into the feast. He says so brilliantly in the Psalms, "Be still and know I am God." One of the translations says, "Cease striving".... I read that as "stop your working for me and just know me as YOUR Papa." "Just enter into my embrace and let me love you, just because you are mine."

So, I ask you, which Son are you?

©copyrighted 2007 by Julie L. Todd