3-4 “So Jesus used this illustration: “If you had a hundred sheep and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? 5 And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders.” Luke 15:3-5 Living Bible (TLB)
I am a returned prodigal. I was raised in church all my life. I believe that my faithful, praying mom is a big part of why I found my way back home. And I’m sure there were others.
I have to confess that a big part of my detour was getting caught up in religion versus relationship. In all the church services, revival meetings, and other activities I participated in growing up, I didn’t get much on how to encounter God daily in my life. I didn’t know God as a loving Father. I loved Him. I just didn’t realize how much He loved me. I had read John 3:16 a million times. But it was so cloaked in all the religious rigor that I couldn’t SEE it or HEAR it. I was caught up in behaving a certain way to fit in with the church crowd. When I began to question that, I was quickly considered an outsider. And the wandering began. I experienced a lot in life that God and my precious mom did not intend for me to. I had some hard knocks and some close calls.
But there was always this voice in my heart. It called me back. I did a lot of “touch and go landings” with church. In and out. No matter which church it was or what denomination, I would quickly get swept into serve in some capacity. If I didn’t serve, there was a chill. And then I would leave again.
Clearly I was injured and my heart needed a different kind of encounter. A healing encounter with Jesus. As a result of all my wandering, I relate to the prodigal son in a very personal way. I can reflect on many situations in my life and know that I am here, writing this blog and loving Jesus, by the grace of God. Because of His patient, deep, passionate, unconditional, fierce, loyal, long-suffering love, I am here. I can’t even imagine all the spiritual battles that were fought to preserve me in questionable situations. But I know He was there protecting me. He kept me safe. Against all odds!
I am thankful. I feel loved. No matter what the circumstances are around me, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that my Saviour loves me. He died for me. He suffered humiliation and torture for me. And He lives for me and is always present to help. Thank you Jesus for Your undying love!
The rap poem in the YouTube video below touched my heart deeply. It is by artist Jefferson Bethke and titled “Why I Hate Religion.” If you have four minutes to spare, take a listen.