This isn’t a post on Haiti – but then, my heart isn’t to write about Haiti anyway. It’s not about the country, it’s about Who created it.
Listening to a sermon this morning, “prodigal son” was mentioned. My thoughts wandered to the story. Who knows why it was today, but this morning the story hit me with a different side, a new perspective. That’s what the Bible does – it’s active and alive…don’t be tricked into thinking they’re the same old stories you’ve always heard.
I am the prodigal daughter.
The story does not translate into our culture in a way where we grasp how heavy and dishonoring this son was as he asked for his inheritance – so you’ve gotta understand that the son was basically saying, “Dad, thanks for the good times but you’re dead to me.”
As far as we know the father has not done a thing, the son “just wanted to go LIVE”. And for the sake of experiencing life, he let his father take the seat of “dead to me”. Let me emphasize how dishonoring this was, “there is no greater insult to a father.”
I grew up living a life of a little introvert who accepted Jesus at 7. A good girl, keeping to herself and her books, and being moral. Making the promises with the rings and sitting through D.A.R.E. thinking “well, of course!”
I grew older and continued to be a Christian – of course I loved God, he was God. Sundays are for him, it’s good to serve, and I’m a “good girl”.
Then I got to a point in life – not on purpose, but with thousands of little decisions, peer choices, times of toeing the line and then going over it – where I was not necessarily a good girl. I was, I definitely was compared to others. But I was leading a double life, where every place I went people knew a piece of me. There was Saturday night, and Saturday morning. There was my mom, and there was my boyfriend. But I never said I didn’t love God.
Did the prodigal son ever say he didn’t love his father? No.
But his actions screamed where his words were silent. “You’re dead to me.”
Tell me – does a girl walking into church on Sunday surrounded by friends from her Christian university who don’t know what’s going on when she visits home, does she need to say it with her words? When she has become numb to the voice she has quieted over and over again, so that she can walk into the building for service and walk out completely unchanged, is she not saying that the One it’s all for is “dead to her”?
I am the prodigal daughter. My words were not needed those years, because my actions shouted what my heart was saying – You are dead to me.
The only possible conclusion to a daughter walking into a place where she can encounter and interact with her Father and walking out completely unaffected, without obedience to the glaring offenses in her life, is “You’re dead to me.”
And those years were exhausting. People did not know the real me, because I did not know the real me. I floundered because I had no purpose to fulfill. Oh, there was plenty to DO – we’re in America and therefore the lists are unending to fill up time and space. But purpose? Fulfillment?
Verse 17 of the story in Luke 15 says, “When he finally came to his senses…”
Yup. That’s how it goes.
Just like falling out, coming back was not one big moment for me. It was hundreds of small decisions. Owning faith by looking for a church. Opening my bible for some reading plan they gave a bookmark out for. Watching my mouth – and being an outsider as a result – when the jokes started at work. And then the big ones came….like stopping relationships that never should have started. Not because people were bad, there were no feelings, or because there was some form of abuse or something serious. But because even things that are “good”, when there are blatant laws made from love against them, we’ve gotta step up and choose – “Is this Father dead to me or not?”
He wasn’t dead to me anymore. I started the walk back home.
And how does the Father react to his prodigal child?
Culture again – it doesn’t hit us like the story would hit its audience when it was written. This father RAN. He had been watching for his son, and he RAN to meet him. Running is not what someone in his position did. A son that said, “you are dead to me”, the ultimate dishonor….and this father dishonored HIMSELF to run to that very son.
Whew. That’s a time for tears and a mini-sermon in itself. Once again I am the prodigal daughter, and I do NOT deserve this reaction from a perfect and holy Father – one who I dared show was DEAD to me just months ago, let’s remember.
And here’s where the story has been hitting me lately. How the patriarch reacts after that running embrace. Not only did he dishonor himself for the sake of his son, he know proclaims to the household that he wants to honor his son. The finest robes, the biggest welcome feast!
There was no grounding period, no waiting, no time to sit in a corner and think about what the son had done. There were open arms and immediate actions to bring him back into the family and right where he belonged.
Of course the second son, who had been there all along, reacts like a human would. Wait – where’s the waiting period? The passive-aggressive relationship? The “purgatory” that many of us put ourselves in after we make mistakes?
THAT’S NOT HOW GOD WORKS. Hear me, friends – you do not need to wait to go to God, and He will not wait to run to you. Not just run to you – but then honor you!
Here’s where being a prodigal daughter gets another level of His grace, goodness, and radical love.
As the prodigal daughter, the time comes to turn around and go to Him. He is there, already watching and ready for me.
He does not hesitate. He does not get all passive-aggressive with me.
I have the earthly consequences he warned about like a broken heart, a confused sense of self, and aching at the piles to sift through in the faces I put on and the sides of myself I showed to different people. I have regret now that He has embraced me – oh, Father, how could I have lived from a place where you were anything but alive and active? And I represented that to everyone around me – which I cannot take back! I have time that I can’t get back, and more time to keep learning and changing and now build back from where I am.
But God is calling a feast and a robe for me.
Father. Dad. What? I’m pretty sure that my brother is right, don’t you want a waiting period or something? I mean, I’m pretty messed up and clearly have some growing to do.
But I am God’s beloved. I am not chosen after being refined, I am chosen and then refined in the process.
I am the prodigal daughter.
I came to my senses and turned home.
My Dad embraced me.
And you know what He did? This is how big He is, how immediate His forgiveness and plan, how serious He is about that robe and feast –
A year after some of the biggest turning I did from the world and towards him happened, my alarm went off to remind me of a family birthday. I remembered this birthday well because just 12 months prior, I was in the middle of a family dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse and I was raw. Heart aching but knowing it was right, my sense of self stripped down but with so much space to fill it in as I learned who I really am.
This alarm went off after a day in the community of Cabaret, as I set in my Haitian hotel room at Shernando. I was exhausted in the best way in body, mind, and spirit (and tongue, attempting to learn a new language for surviving life). I spent my day visiting neighbors, getting groceries in market, praying with my CPR-3 team. And I looked at the calendar and saw all God did in a year. He took NO time in plugging me in at the church I “kind of” went to, taking me on an international trip where my heart stripped down even more to see “all of me, it’s all of me for Him”. I then went home with my brand new college degree and a plan to be in Columbus – and in then LESS than a year God took those dreams and transformed them to place me in Haiti – from praying about going, to counsel to go, to acceptance, to a ridiculous kind of financial support pouring in, to just the right mentors in just the right places, to a plane ticket less than a year before I said “I’m all in”.
He didn’t take His time.
“’But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Luke 15:22-24, NLT)
Adventure is not eno hammocks and #lifegoals pictures of far away places. Adventure is going from a tiring and unfulfilling life (a double-life in my case where people didn’t even know me), to barely able to keep up with how quickly God is redeeming and using your story. You wake up and realize you are caught in something much bigger than you, yet designed for you to fit perfectly within it.
I have never felt fuller or been more full of joy to be myself and learn more about myself. Life is seen through a new lens that changes how everything looks. And how in the world in just a year after that place did I get here? I didn’t even know this place existed and within a year, I was in the middle of it. THIS is adventure. Right where God created you to be….