Her: But he does not even get along with his mother!
Me: (after a long pause in thought) It's just a broken world.
WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT ME: And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. Luke 15:31
Recently God gave me hope for other relationships in the healing of one relationship. It took a mountainous tragedy to move that brick wall. Through one very painful loss a previous loss was found and restored. It feels so wrong that it took something so tragic to fix something so broken. God can make good out of all things. A relationship that felt hopeless has been regained in God's timing. I patiently trust and wait on the Lord to work on other relationships. Through it all, I keep my eyes on Jesus. Through it all, it is well with my soul in the keeping right of the vertical relationship while I wait.
When I think of the word prodigal, it is as if the parable in Luke 15:11-32 is the definition of prodigal. It is the only time I hear the word used. I looked up the definition: "spending resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant."
As I read the scripture of the prodigal son, my eyes keep coming back to the words "reckless living" in verse 13. Reckless living could be about stuff, but it is not. It is about our relationship with God (vertical) and our relationship with others (horizontal). The stuff of this world comes and goes, but the relationship lasts for eternity. This is a story of recklessly living in relationships. The son wasted everything he had. The brother wasted everything he had. The father wasted everything he had. Relationships were wasted.
Knowing I would write after the sermon, before service I reviewed the bulletin for clues about the day's sermon. Immediately the tears began to stream down my cheek as I realized the topic. That is how quickly my emotions can change when I bring to mind the real hurt, the real damage, and the real pain of relationships. It seems to be the story of my life that people throw me away. It is easier for people to take to heart and take action on those graphics about removing toxic people from one's life, selfishly caring only about oneself, than to give grace. One small thing that rubs someone the wrong way causes people to discard other people. Relationships are hard work, but so many would rather walk away from them than work on them. It is easier to believe gossip and turn away than to seek the truth. It is easier to let things go than to take the time to understand why someone made a comment. The rejected person may never know what they did wrong to cause the relationship break down and the building up of walls.
I have a high value for family. Growing up it was instilled in me that family was more important than anything. Family sticks together no matter what. Family works through things. Oh goodness does it hurt when suddenly a family member does not have the same values!
The father in the prodigal story sets a great example for how I am to deal with people that throw me away. The father felt real shame from the actions of his son. The father by Jewish culture could have disowned or even stoned his son to death. Just as the son had rejected his father, the father could have rejected the son. Instead of following the ways of the world, the father followed his heart and God. He never gave up on his son. The moment God "moved mountains" and brought his son home, the father ran out to meet his son before he ever had an opportunity to seek forgiveness. The father forgave before the son ever returned home, which enabled him to pour out grace upon grace for his son.
How is the father in this story able to forgive? He let go of those things that ruined his relationship with Christ. He got right with God first. He let go of his anger toward his son's actions. He let go of his deep rooted hurt of feeling ashamed. He let go of his sinfulness and let God work grace in his life both vertically and horizontally. God's grace comes overflowing down and spills out on those around us.
I feel real shame every time someone asks me if I have heard from a loved one who has rejected me. I struggle with rejection, but remember that God never rejects me. Getting right with God is top priority. God's grace to me overflows and allows my heart to never give up on the people I love, no matter how long they reject me. I continually reach out, even if I never hear a reply. I forgive "seventy times seven" times. I continue to let God's grace flow over onto those who reject me in hopes that one day, God will move mountains for me and fix those relationships. I pray for those walls to fall down and those relationships to be rebuilt. Sometimes my faith that God will work miracles in my relationships falters as weeks and months and years go by, only for me to refocus on Christ once again to be strengthened by Him. I wait for the reconnection opportunity with open arms and no need for explanations. God's timing is good.
1 Does one relationship, the vertical or the horizontal, take priority?
2 What allows me to never give up?
3 Can I climb over mountains of troubles or break down brick walls on my own?