Friday, October 23, 2009
there's hope in this that you will surely see
The first book on my reading list was suggested by two different friends of mine, both of whom I highly respect. Both are well-read individuals. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller is a short read (although it sure has taken me a month to do it - I'm a slow reader), & I didn't really have expectations of being conformed through it.
Keller basically deconstructs the parable of the Prodigal Son by pointing out & explaining the context of Jesus telling the story. He also helpfully adds insight to this parable by breaking down and tearing apart (and most of you already know that I LOVE a good breaking down and tearing apart :)) of the word "prodigal". I won't tell you, because I want you to read it for yourself. But I will tell you how I am being changed through it.
I found out really quickly that I had underestimated this little book. I have learned several things that I think will resonate with me for the rest of my life (thus, conformation) but it has been a far more thrilling experience, although painful, than I ever expected to have been confronted with a very ugly part of myself. To have been "sifted" (Luke 22:31) and weeded; now that I have seen, I am responsible.
I am going to assume you already know the parable of the Prodigal Son & I won't spend the time here to re-tell it. If not, read it in Luke 15. Having grown up in a Christian home with Christian parents, and very involved in the church I don't ever remember NOT knowing this story. Like most people, I assume, I have always believed this parable to be mostly about the younger brother squandering, repenting, & returning to his open armed Father (embarrassingly, PCD's very old "When God Ran" comes to mind). It wasn't until about a year ago, when I was clinging to this parable in a certain situation in my own life, that I even acknowledged that the elder brother even had a role in this story; and after having read this book I regret to admit that I am he. Being back here, clinging again to this story, I have found that I am an elder brother.
I remember about a year ago, praying through this passage of scripture and pleading with God to bring someone I love to the end of themselves, even if that meant leaving them destitute in a pig sty. I was really angry this particular day and sort of having a melt down and just yelling at God over the whole thing. I was so mad that God would allow it to happen in the first place, I was mad that the person I loved was making such stupid choices and I was mad that God wasn't doing anything about it. I was fighting with the Lord & devastated that the faithful, JUST, perfect, loving God I knew seemed to be none of those things in that moment. He seemed to cease to be just and loving. More than being mad at God I was mad that this one I love was being so stupid. I was over praying for their protection while being stupid, I just wanted them to stop sinning and I wanted God to make it happen. And in the middle of my raging rant at God, that loving, just God I know showed up. In response to my cry of "God, why are you letting him get away with this?? Why aren't you doing anything about his sin?" the Lord spoke so clearly to my spirit saying, "Erin, and what about your sin?" Ouch.
That was my first encounter with the elder brother. That moment with my Lord helped to transform my thinking & in His Sovereignty - He's kinda of awesome, and annoying, when He doesn't let you forget these things - He has brought this lesson right back to me, just as I was starting to forget it.