Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Maybe if I write about it...

When I was a kid I had a recurring dream. Nightmare really. I don't remember all of the details, but it had to do with a creepy guy who lived in a shack behind the elementary school. He would take kids from the playground if they got too close to his shack. I don't know what he did to them, and I always woke up either right before or right as he caught me. I think I had this dream several times over a few years. I'm pretty sure it made recess a bit stressful.

One day, something changed and the dream went away. I talked about it. I don't remember who I told about it (probably a friend), but getting it out in the open seemed to change whatever it was in my subconscious that was causing the dream in the first place.

Well, over the last week, something else has been recurring, so I thought if I wrote about it, it would go away. I'm sure there's something I'm supposed to be learning, so maybe the thought process will bring some clarity. I've talked about it, but I'm sure I need to go deeper on this one.

It's not a dream, it's a parable. From the Bible. One I've heard about or read a hundred times or more over the years. And in the last week and a half, it's been mentioned 8 or 9 times (or more.. I've lost count), 5 times in different sermons, 2 or 3 times by friends, and once again today, in a book I'm reading. It's the story of the Prodigal Son. You can read it for yourself in Luke 15.

In case you don't want to read it, here's the AKV (Abbreviated Karen Version).
Dad has 2 sons. Younger son asks for his inheritance. He gets it and blows it all livin' large in the city. Takes a job slopping pigs. No money. No home. No food - not even the stuff the pigs are eating. Has a change of heart, decides to run home to dad, apologize, and live as a servant in the home he grew up in. Figures that would be better than having a pig for a best bud. Funny thing happens on his way home. Dad meets him, forgives him, brings him back into the home, throws a party and everyone is happy. Well, almost everyone. Big brother's kinda bitter and won't even say hello to his estranged brother. He won't celebrate the homecoming, even though dad tries to convince him to. Can you say dysfunctional?
What am I supposed to be learning by hearing this over and over again (coming from different angles each time)? Am I the son who basically wishes his father were dead so he could have his inheritance early? Am I the son squandering the gifts that I have been given so freely from my Father based on my own selfish desires? Am I the older brother, more interested in what's mine is mine, than in restoring my relationship with my brother, and ruining my relationship with my Father in the process? Or am I the father, waiting for some prodigal situation to come to an end in my life, ready, willing to forgive and accept with open arms?

I think the answer is, all of the above. I see glimpses of myself in each one of them. That doesn't give me any great revelation that will help me fall asleep easier tonight or not be hesitant to turn on the next podcast or start reading the next chapter. But maybe, just maybe, I'm realizing (or remembering) that there is really never just one thing to learn from a few verses in the Bible, but that the Word of God is alive and still makes an impact on people today. It's not a history book, but a telling of His Story. And that story continues today, and I get to be a part of it. How cool is that?

What about you? Who do you most relate to in this parable?

In case you want to join the fun, here's a list of the sermons that were either about or briefly mentioned the prodigal son, listed in the order I heard them. They're all worth a listen, and most are also available on iTunes:

God is Father, Craig Groeschel,
God is Father, Clayton King, NewSpring Church
Coming Home, 06/07/2009, Brian Colmery, Cornerstone Simi Valley
The Origin, June 24, 2009, Charles Stanley, InTouch
Why Isn't My Life Working? (#4 in series), Pete Wilson, Cross Point

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