Read It as Your Testimony

I did a scripture reading this past Sunday at church. It was fun–I like to do that sort of thing whenever I get the chance. I was talking to the worship leader a little bit after me and another gentleman practiced our reading, and he told me about this exercise he’d done in a grad school class that I’m still thinking about.

What they did was read scripture, and then the intructor had them read it again, except this time they read it as their testimony.

Darrin told me there were more than a few people tearing up, and I can see why. There’s nothing that makes people feel more than hearing someone like them talk about an experience they may have gone through themselves.

What I’ve been thinking about since that discussion is, what scripture would I read as my testimony?

It actually didn’t take a lot of thought–I’ve always seen more than a little of myself in the Parable of the Lost Son, as told in Luke 15. I’ve written about it several times (this being the third), and I think that nearly ever time I read it, God shows me something new about myself.

The Lost Son is so much like I was–like I am sometimes still. He wants what he feels he’s due, and he wants it now.

And his father, being full of grace, gives him what he wants. He loves him. And the son takes his inheritance and squanders it, pretty much drinking and whoring until it’s gone. Not that I ever went whoring, but I did waste my inheritance for a very long time.

What happened was that–like the son–I hit the bottom like the Titanic. And the only place I could go was back to the Father. Same as the Son in the parable, who returned in spite of himself. Who didn’t want to return, but realized that was the only option left. That, or death.

So the son returns to the father, and the father welcomes him. My NIV depicts the Lost Son’s turnabout like this:

17“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.

”But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…”

I guess these words are something I need to be reminded of, so I can remind others. So I can make sure my kids know it as well.

And make no mistake, there are still times when I feel like the Lost Son. There are times when I feel I need to throw myself at my father’s feet and beg forgiveness. Lately, lots of times.

Recently, again, I’ve felt like I’ve been wasting away my inheritance. Wasting it with my feeble prayer life and inconsistent discipleship. Wasting it with my poor example to David of what a Christ-following man looks like. Wasting it by not being the strong leader my family needs me to be, especially with John here, growing so fast, and the challenges that presents.

And now, I’m ready to come back to my Father. Amazing how God just brings things to the surface of your heart sometimes, like the impurities brought forth during the refining process for precious metals.

The metal is heated, so the impurities come to the surface. Why? So they can be removed, by the refiner. And it’s important to remember the refining process is not done just once. It takes a long time.

It takes a lifetime, and we don’t get to shine like new gold until we get to Heaven, and sit at the feet of the Father.

And so today, I turn to my old friend Luke. I had to read the scripture again this morning, courtesy of the wonderful and readily available Bible Online.

And then I read it again. But maybe it isn’t just me.

Who among those who believe has not done the same? Who hasn’t been the lost son? Who hasn’t taken generosity and love for granted? Who hasn’t, in a sense, demanded their inheritance early? I think of all the times I’ve responded to God in a like manner. Maybe that’s the point, though. At least for me.

Personal conviction. And awareness that I need to repent anew.

Something always strikes me about the Lost Son parable (AKA the parable of he prodigal). Not so much the son’s apparent repentance–to me that smacked of forced contrition, not true remorse. He’s broke, and hungry, and has nowhere else to go. He’s just relating what he’s going to do, not baring his heart, or even seeking forgiveness. He came to his senses, it says, but that’s all. The son could have just been talking about finding a meal at that point.

He’d wasted away his inheritance. There was a famine. Why not return to the source of the inheritance, where the servants fared better than he was at the time?

Certainly, all those things are important. Yet what impacted me most was the father.

His grace toward the son.

The passage mentions that he sees his son when he was still a long way off, so he had to be outside looking for him. Scanning the horizon. Desperate to see his son return. I can see him standing there, shading his eyes with a hand.

Looking.

Waiting.

Hoping.

Not seeing.

Yet every day, looking.

It does not say how long he looked for his son. Only that:

”But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…”

It kind of makes you think about the shepherd looking for his ONE lost sheep, rather than writing it off because he still has 99. He will pursue the lost one, and he will be filled with Joy when he makes it back home with that one sheep across his shoulders.

That’s the same Joy God feels when we return to the fold.

How he felt when, like the prodigal, I came to my senses. When I stood, looking across the Colorado river with tears running down my face and holes in the knees of my jeans. Was it forced contrition with me? Perhaps in a sense it was. But God did not care how I came back to him—just that I returned.

He felt joy. And scripture also tells us that angels rejoice when a sinner turns from his life of sin.

But look again at the father’s reaction upon seeing his son.

“his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…”

He did not stand waiting with his arms crossed, brow furrowed with displeasure. He did not grudgingly accept a tentative and awkward apology.

He was filled with compassion for his son, and he ran to him.

He ran.

He ran, probably forgoing all semblance of dignity.

He ran, robes flying, probably with arms extended. Running across the field to his lost son.

He ran, and he was filled with compassion.

He ran, and when he got to him at last, he threw his arms around him, and kissed him.

No condemnation, no judgement.

Just love.

He threw him a party, and killed the fatted calf.

Today, I read that passage again and I thought about Jesus scanning the horizon for me, desperate to see me. I thought of him running toward me with his arms outstretched, running across a field to get to me. He’d been waiting for me all the time I’d been holding out, waiting for me to come to him. Waiting for me to come burdened, and afraid, and encumbered by the world and the lies I’d come to believe about both God and myself.

He waited for me, even though I was not ready. Me, in my dirty robes.

He waited for me with his shepherd’s arms outstretched. He waited for me, in my unclean and starving state—impure in both thought and action.

Me, covered in the filth of my journey home.

Me.

And when he saw me, he could wait no longer.

He ran. And when he finally reached me, he threw his arms around me
and kissed me.

And there was rejoicing in heaven.

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Published by

twilk68

God has changed my life, and changed me. It's that simple. I will ever be grateful, and if I live to be...well, OLD, I will never tire of telling people about the work done in my life, and what can be done in theirs, should they trust God with their innermost everything...

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