In the past I thought people who grew up in the church had it easy. I never understood how people who knew the truth made a conscious decision to be of the world. I spoke with a young man once who lamented about his inexperience with females and with drinking and smoking. I was surprised to hear him talk about how he desperately wanted to do the things he had seen on tv. As a freshman in college he wanted to go to clubs, become sexually active, and get so drunk that he couldn’t remember anything from the night before. My first thoughts were that this kid was crazy. I kept saying to myself that I wish I had known as much about the spiritual realm when I was growing up. He sounded like a sheltered sheep as he told me how in his household he could not go certain places and engage in certain “cultural” events. For example, his family made an agreement with him regarding prom. If he missed his senior prom then they would rent a car for him for an entire week or so. At the moment he felt like that was the right and wise thing to do but a year later he hates the thought of not having any pictures or memories of his senior prom. Maybe God thought it was best for him to not go to prom, that’s not for me to decide. But I was worried to see this young man so eager to engage in sin. He wanted to leave the flock with hope of coming back in one piece. I tried to explain that to whom much is given, much is expected and that God had shown Himself to this young man at such an early age for a reason. In summary, I tried to explain how dangerous it is to step out of the covering of protection given to us by God. Especially when it is deliberate. I thought his philosophy of viewing his walk with God was absurd. The interesting thing is that God had to remind me that after getting to know the Lord I had my own “prodigal son” experience.
Luke 15:1-7 (NIV):
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
I will share a personal story about what ended my “prodigal son” experience. So shortly after the Lord got my attention and showed me how real He is I got a bit discouraged. I felt like God had called me to do His business, which is serious and ought to be treated as such, during my college experience. Although I was “happy” God had saved me, I began to question why I couldn’t have more time to be the average teenager in college, 12 hours away from my hometown. It was obviously a matter of life or death for me as Jesus had to jump in and save me before I hit hell head first. So anyway, one day I decided to go have fun with old friends. I mean I can still serve God regardless if my friends do. I mean, as long as I keep His commands right? I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself. So this night with friends I went to a “kickback” with intentions to “hangout” with friends but ended up in horrible condition. I believe in the past I have been more intoxicated but I think God wanted to teach me a lesson about how serious it is to play with fire. I won’t even get into detail about the numerous alcoholic beverages and illegal substances I had taken that night but it was enough to kill a person. I had absolutely no self-control. And my crutch was the thought, “In the morning I’ll make things right with God but right now, God please watch over me.” After taking several shots of alcohol everything became a blur. I remember specifically at some point lying on a friends bathroom floor in their apartment. I remember being so intoxicated that I was seeing double of everything and all I wanted was for my stomach to be pumped. I had alcohol poisoning for sure. As I lie there I began to feel pain in my hand and neck. I was the “angry” drunk type so at one point I had gotten so upset that I began to punch concrete leaving my knuckles bloody and sore. And I still cannot fully explain where the scratches on my neck that burned for about 2 weeks came from. Friends occasionally checked on me as I was stretched out on the bathroom floor for the rest of the night. But honestly, saI was pretty much was left there helpless. I began to feel so sick and began to ask God to sober me. While still on the floor, I was able to find my phone and call my Grandmother-in-Christ to help take my mind off of where I was. To my surprise she answered, prayed with me, and before you know it I began to sober up. I was still drunk, believe me, but I began to feel it lifting. I hated being at that apartment because it felt like being in a pool of sin. The music was so loud in the apartment and the heavy smoke was making the bathroom feel like a sauna so I decided to go in the hallway of the apartment complex. I staggered into the hallway and I will never forget what happened because I had the most serious and realistic experience to have been so drunk. This whole night was spiritual and no one knew it besides me, I think. So I went into the hallway and I was clearly drunk and had the rambles on the phone. When my Grandmother-in-Christ began talking I had a surreal experience. Something told me to turn to my right and there was a man approaching and staring at me as I stood in the hallway drunk and afraid for my life. I tried to hold my composure and not appear to be “as drunk.” The man turned away and went into his apartment. 2 seconds later something told me to turn to my left and all I saw was a tiny head peaking from around a wall. I wasn’t in my “right” mind so I began to walk closer to see what it was. I stopped in my tracks when I realized that it was a person watching me the entire time, possibly plotting to catch me off guard. My last thought was that you need to go inside right now because I did not know what was being planned. As I ran back to my “friends” apartment there was someone coming out and I turned to tell them about the person who had been watching me and when I turned around, the person watching me was gone. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the man who walked by me on the right knew the guy peaking on the left. I went inside the apartment and locked myself into the bathroom until it was time to go. After several hours had passed my ride decided to take me back to campus. Helping to hold me up from place to place, we somehow managed for me to get back into my room. I sat up in my bed talking to God and preparing a ” I know I am about to die God but I am sorry,” speech. I felt my heart beating slowly and it just felt like everything was slowing down. Almost as if I was in a bubble and everyone was going on with their lives while I was approaching death, slowly but surely. No, I didn’t die but for the next 3 days I was extremely sick. I was unable to keep anything down, my neck and hands were sore, and exposure to the sun caused pain on my skin. It was in the middle of Spring and I was bundled up to keep my skin from pain. There are some other events that happened which are a part of me coming out of my old sinful nature but this one specific event shared above, is my prodigal son experience.
Luke 15:11-32 (NIV):
The Parable of the Lost Son
“11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.13 “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. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So 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.21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
God WILL come back for His lost sheep, even if it is one.
For those who were raised in the church, go back to your first love. Go back to Him! He is waiting. When our relationship with God begins to fail it is because we moved or we changed. God is a compassionate and long-suffering God. Don’t become comfortable with sin and don’t believe the lies of Satan that will make you believe you can never go back. Don’t believe the lies that you have done the worst sins and thus cannot be used by Christ. Trust me, there is nothing new under the sun as stated in the Bible and there isn’t any sin that God can’t forgive or deliver us from. Go back to God! The next second or minute is not promised and you don’t want things to end with you not being right with the Lord. Remember, He is waiting for you with open arms. Go back!