I liken trying to get an internet connection here in Romania to panning for gold. Sure you can go days and days with seeing nothing more than stones and dirt in your pan, but once you see a spot of yellow at the bottom of the pan, all those days of being wet, muddy, achy and stiff backed, seem to melt away. Every day I wake up and am greeted with no signal found most of the time. On those blessed days however, when the little icon pops up and says I have a signal, all the frustration of being isolated from the rest of the world seems to melt away.
For the past couple posts we have been discussing the parable of the prodigal son, but as we edge, inevitably so to a hopefully satisfying conclusion, we begin to see that the parable was more about the two brothers, than it was about the prodigal himself. Jesus was speaking to the pharisees, and in his trademark subtleness it is the end of the parable that rebukes them, and shows them the truth of their error. For now however, we continue with the younger of the two, who at the end of the last post had happened upon an epiphany of sorts.
We see the shift in the young man's perception, even in the words he uses. Before leaving for the far country, the young man stood before his father expressing his feeling of entitlement by saying, 'Father give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' Now, after having experienced need, after having seen the cruelty of the far country, he returns to his father and says, 'make me like one of your hired servants.'
Within these subtle nuances we discover another spiritual principle that is applicable to the life of every believer. The immature Christian clings to the perception that he is entitled to everything, and so as he stands before the Father he is likely to demand, to say 'give me'. The mature Christian however, realizes that he needs to be transformed, he needs to be made, chiseled and molded, by the renewing of his mind, and is more likely to stand before God in humility and say, 'make me.'
Rather than stand before God, list of demands firmly gripped in our hands, unconcerned with whether or not we are ready to receive our inheritance, but merely saying 'give me' like some spoiled child, may we be wise and humble ourselves. May we stand before the heavenly Father, and before we utter the words 'give me', may we respectfully request that he make us, transform us, into worthy heirs of the divine inheritance, that we may not squander the priceless things, but prize them and make them dear.
Seeing as some who call themselves Christians choose to live their lives here on earth, unaccountable, unchanged, pursuing the same practices as before they found Christ, i wonder if they truly understand the worth of that which He did for us on the cross. Like the young son living in his father's house, many go about enjoying grace, salvation, and mercy, without ever realizing how precious and priceless they are. So removed are they from the reality of the favor they've been granted that some even choose to leave His presence, growing dissatisfied with the standard and requirements.
It would be mere speculation and supposition of the worst kind to assume that in order to reach spiritual maturity one must first visit the far country. If we are content with our place in our Father's house, the journey to the far country, and the pain and disappointment experienced there are not necessary at all. For some however, there seems to be no other path to greater understanding and appreciation of that which they already possess, than visiting the far country with all its disillusionment and heartache. It is detrimental to be sure, for the individual, as well as those around him, and for some it becomes their final destination as they are unwilling to humble themselves and return to the Father's home, asking to be made a servant. The wise man learns from those that came before him, while the foolhardy is doomed to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors.
The young man had come to a crossroads. Either humble himself, return to his father's house without pretense, or feelings of entitlement, or starve among the swine. Although the choice seems evident to most, for some it is not that simple. Again, human pride and arrogance have their say, and some continue living in a state of near death, rather than humble themselves. Once, the young man saw himself as great in his own eyes; once the young man believed that he could conquer the world; once he looked down upon his father, but no more. Now he chose the path of humility, longed for the familiarity of his home.
Once the young man arrived, new surprises were in store for him. He realized he had never truly known his father, his capacity for love, mercy, and grace. He also realized he had never learned to be grateful for all the benefits that living in his father's house in submission, patience, and thankfulness entailed. The young man who left his father's house thinking he knew it all, returned with the newfound understanding that he really didn't know much. The prodigal who repents of his actions, and returns to his father's embrace, is offered, by grace a new beginning in his father's house.
It is said that a man in South Africa, obsessed with dreams of wealth and riches, sold his farm and went in search of diamonds. when finally he came to the point of having squandered all his savings, having run out of resources, not having found the sought after diamonds, disillusioned and depressed, he threw himself off a bridge into a river where he drowned.
After a few years, the man who had bought the farm spotted an unusual stone int he creek bed that wound its way through the property. He picked up the stone, had it polished and placed it on the mantle in his living room, where it became a topic of conversation every time he had a visitor. One day, a guest who was a specialist in precious stones, took a closer look at the stone sitting on the mantle, and concluded that it was in fact a diamond. Having the stone discreetly seen by another specialist, the farmer soon discovered that he was in possession of one of the biggest diamonds in the whole of Africa.
The farmer returned to the creek bed, and to his surprise he saw more such 'stones', which he gathered, and had polished. They were there waiting to be discovered all along. The ex owner, had sold a veritable diamond mine, one of the richest deposits in the world, having gone off in search of precious stones.
The lesson is as simple as it is relevant. Often times, we go searching for something when it was right under our noses all along, ignored and overlooked. Today, many Christians are enchanted by newness. Whether or not this new movement, experience, or revelation is scriptural or of God, is inconsequential as long as it is something new. They travel, they gather in stadiums and coliseums, they wait in lines hours on end, all so they could say they were there, they experienced, they saw and they felt. All the while, that which is most precious, most profound, most glorious, intimacy with Christ, is left unattended, ignored and overlooked.
I do not know when the next post will be, but what I do know, is that it will be the conclusion of our study of the two brothers. I am returning to the States this Friday, and will hopefully be able to get back to a normal pace in posting my thoughts. Thank you all for your prayers, and may He who sees all, guide you in all things.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.