…”There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” Luke 15:11-13 NIV
We know the whole story—a son wastes his father’s best, and then in a state of desperation, comes home, only to find forgiveness instead of a flogging. We stand in judgment of him, like the other sibling who was so appalled that Dad wouldn’t at least make him grovel a little. What our sanctimonious selves don’t realize, however, is that there are times when, instead of the good, obedient brother’s reflection, the person who’s actually staring back at us in the mirror has slop around his mouth and corn husks matted in his muddy hair. We’re just like that prodigal in so many ways, aren’t we?
I sometimes tell folks, “I’m convinced that the good Lord has a whole lot more sense than I have;” and though it’s my humorous way of saying His ways are much higher than mine, it’s still just the stark truth. I’ve come to know this, and occasionally have to re-learn it, from years of making foolish choices on my own before finally repenting and handing the reins back to an all-knowing, all-wise God.
When did the prodigal son actually get in trouble? Was it in the gambling house? The bar? The brothel? The pig pen? No, it began when he went to his father and said, “I want it all. Right now. No strings attached, no one telling me what I should or shouldn’t do with it.” The inheritance was to be his eventually anyway. However, his burning desire to have his own way—without any authoritative counsel—almost guaranteed this boy wouldn’t like the outcome of his imprudent request. As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you ask for…”
God has a plan already in place for us; it’s His very best, and His perfect will for our lives is carved out of pure love and infinite goodness. My pastor, who teaches frequently on eternity, reminds us that God’s order is sequential, not cyclical. It is nothing like man’s “spinning wheel…what goes up must come down” philosophy. Our lives are a tiny speck on God’s eternal timeline; yet we so value our speck and make everything all about us, about our one short life. Something in the base, carnal human nature—that “thing” in us present since the fall of Adam—feels cheated when we can’t be instantly gratified, when we can’t call the shots. The backslider in heart takes the blessings of God with him and sets out to do it all his own way. Worst possible choice with the worst possible outcome.
I’ve asked God amiss many times over the years, and in the times He actually said “yes” to a foolish request, I’ve had to live with those things I was so determined to have. How much happier, how much freer, how much less stressed, regretful, bitter, angry, confused we might be if we would just pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…” If we could only grasp and retain the knowledge in our minds that He really does have our best interests at heart even when His answer is not our answer.
You’re getting ready to suffer some whopper consequences if you’re asking for—or planning to do on your own—something of which you can’t honestly say to God, “Your will be done in my situation. If you don’t want this for me, I don’t want this for me.” When you can’t surrender a particular affection, desire, or thing to His will, you’ve skating dangerously close to committing idolatry AND are setting yourself up for some unhappy times to come. It can be anything…a job offer, a sports contract, a record or movie deal, a home or car or some other material investment, a relationship. But, if you can’t offer it back to God and allow Him to decide if it’s right for you, you may be entering into a decision where much, much regret will follow. You’ll despise the prize.
The enemy’s always tried to paint this picture—beginning with Eve in the garden—that God just dangles good things in front of us and says we can’t have them. What God actually does, however, is sets boundaries for us and yet allows us the freedom to choose…only with consequences when we step outside the protective canopy of His will. The good news is, there is redemption for those of us who shake ourselves and realize that it’s time to go back home. Our Father anxiously awaits the cry of repentance in His wandering children. He’s not ready to dole out a beating, a bunk in the servants’ quarters, or a string of “I told you so’s.” He just wants us to do right so that we can be His heirs. He’s a Parent more loving than we can ever imagine, but does He mean business? You’d better believe He does. We may have to learn, over and over, the high cost of disobedience, but we serve a mighty good God. He will make sure we get it right even if we have to learn the hard way.
Corrie Ten Boom once said something short but profound: “Don’t wrestle. Nestle.” Put yourself at peace…whatever your circumstance, whatever your aspiration, your dream, your desire, put it in His hands and LET GO. There’s nothing any more peaceful, more restful than turning loose of the struggle and committing your ways to His will. He already knows how long you’re going to live, so His itinerary includes a fulfilled destiny in the time you’re allotted…if you’re willing to trust Him.
His palace sure smells better than your pad on Pig Pen Lane, too, in case you’re wondering. Just saying…
©2012 Lisa Crum