Thursday, November 11, 2010

A key and a new verse

(Sorry about the crazy spacing in this post...I can't make Blogger cooperate!)

I have confessed to you before how much I identify with the older brother in the story of the prodigal son and, here I am once again. Still pulling back layers, discovering who I am. Discovering who my Father is.  Trying to move further from obligation and into celebration.

So we enter the story yet again. And the place we come in does not give us much insight to how these boys were raised. All we know is that at the time we come on the scene, neither son is happy with where they are in life.  One son thinks that there is a lot more extravagant life worth living “out there”, and the other son thinks life isn’t worth much extravagant living at all.

In the blessings of being a firstborn son, I have to wonder what brought his heart to this painfully lonely place.  Did his dad put too much pressure on him to perform? Was there constant comparison for the younger son to have to live up to that brought about a sense of pride? Was the social privilege and responsibility of being the heir to his father’s wealth proving to be more than he wanted to deal with?  Did his father bear the daunting task of raising these kids with no clue of what he was doing outside of repeating his own upbringing and making every manor of mistake?  (Oh how my heart aches and relates to this thought!)  

We don’t know. Scripture doesn’t say. All we know is that this relationship, from the son’s perspective, with his father, is strained.

What is it that is missing? What more could this firstborn want? What else could this older brother conceivably need? What is the missing element that will move this performance ridden, obligation fulfilling, self pitying and self entitled son to life...and joy...and freedom...and A PARTY?  
I feel like the Lord is showing me, the hidden key is gratitude. I recently began participating in the One Thousand Gifts concept and it is even now changing my heart. I am beginning to grasp why Paul says so clearly that he has learned to be content in all things.  It is a choice.

An ungrateful heart is fallow ground for discontentment. 

Discontentment makes it very easy to believe the lie that the enemy is constantly whispering into our soul. “God is holding out on you. There is something more,”  he says. 

It’s the lie he whispered to Eve in the garden.  It’s the lie he whispered to Esau about some stew. It is the lie he whispered to Saul about his kingdom. It’s the lie he’s whispered to Jesus in the wilderness.  It’s the lie he’s whispered to countless others down through history including the Pharisees, the Sadducees, so many of the teachers and keepers of the law, and to this wounded, hard hearted older brother.  

It is the lie he has been deceiving me with for more years than I care to confess. 

And here, here is the truth that defeats it. Romans 8:32 says this: He did not spare His own son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

His own son. He gave Him up. And freely!

He is not holding out on you and He is not holding out on me. There is nothing that He hasn’t given us. Peter tells us He has given us everything for life and godliness and John tells us it is for an abundant life that He gave us His all.  


There is no cost. No demands or requirements. No dangling carrot of perfect performance.  No preset stipulation for complete acceptance.  No unspoken agenda of unreachable expectations. No birth order obligation that demands entitlement. Nothing.

All that is there is a father who has come out from the place of rejoicing and gratitude, pleading with those of us who share the heavy burdened, self barricaded heart of this beloved firstborn; 
“Come! Celebrate! You are with me all along and all that is mine is yours!”

So, I have a choice. Do I believe the murmuring, doubt casting lies of the enemy? 

Or do I believe in a continually demonstrative, extravagantly patient, unfailingly faithful, self sacrificing, maker of my soul, agape loving God who has been nothing but a safe place all along. 

A safe place all along for me as I’ve grown. A safe place all along for me as I’ve failed...again. A safe place all along where I’ve healed miraculously.  A safe place all along to be vulnerable and accepted. A safe place all along to ask for the things I need...and the things I want.  A safe place all along where I’ve known and experienced real love. 

Why wouldn’t I want to celebrate with Him?

What else could I possibly need that He hasn’t already given?

What choice is left but gratitude? 

How can I ever say thanks to Him?  
By believing Him. Gratefully. Continually. 

Want to join me in memorizing Romans 8:32? This one is going to tear down some strongholds. I’m ready to go inside and party!  

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