I believe I’ve come a long way to be who I am today. I’m nowhere near the woman I envisioned I would be long ago. The picture I had for myself involved less growth and struggle and more of everything else that required no pain or sacrifice. I was taught as a child on the Word of God that He has a plan for my life which included every detail of my past, present, and future. Yet, the way I dreamed, planned and lived didn’t support what I believed. The plan I used to have involved a series of steps that weren’t always centered on focusing on God. I deduced that because my dreams were honest, passionate, and driven that it wouldn’t matter if they weren’t 100% centered on serving the Lord. The girl smiling in the photo thought her eyes were wide open but in reality, they were shut closed.
I spent time doing what I thought was best for my life and found my feet down to death. My steps took hold on hell and I had no more plans to get out. With each plan and idea, it only carried me deeper. It was too easy deceiving myself into thinking that everything I wanted was good for me. Pursuing fruitless endeavors left me unsatisfied, broken, and sad. I was confused as to why all my hard work, sweat, and tears didn’t produce my success. I was lost, surrounded by everything that couldn’t save me. I hated being in that place. I felt alone, unsafe, and unloved. I would cry out for relief but until I was ready to leave and be free, my tears just made my dark place damp with fear. Whenever danger strikes, a person’s instincts kicks in for them to panic, to figure a way out. But, with each step in the wrong direction that seemed right, it only caused more sadness and frustration. I felt like a hole that could never be filled and if it tried it would just consume. You might shake your head in disbelief, but living and acting selfishly in the flesh instead of the spirit has drastic, dramatic outcomes (Galatians 5:16-17).
You see, that girl in the photo didn’t trust the steps God ordered for her life. In her mind, trust meant surrender, and surrender would mean giving up control and power. Without a sense of control, she believed she would fall apart. Without the illusion of power, she thought failure would be her only option. I continued to fool myself, lead myself farther away from the safest place in the whole wide world. I couldn’t accept the love that was extended to me because I allowed the backlash of every bad step haunt me.
I felt guilty, heavy, and used. I won’t argue with you that there are others out there who might have done far worse than me. I will say that the things I’ve done left a stain of guilt, a huge burden that no amount of doing good and nice works could shake away. All I wanted to do was go back and change. I wanted a second chance and I was still too blind to see that once I made the step back to Him that I would get it.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
This parable told by Jesus talks about a father and his two sons. The younger one decides that he could live a better life, a richer and fuller life without his father. He asked for his inheritance and lived a riotous lifestyle (Luke 15:13). When he asked for his inheritance he showed how little he loved his father. When children are left with inheritances from their parents they only receive it when the parents are deceased. The son no longer saw his father as something he needed in his life. He believed that what his father gave him wasn’t enough to fulfill his dreams, goals, and desires and thought his way was better. He publicly implied that he wished his father dead when he decided to live his life his way.
So, each step the younger son made led him farther away from home. He didn’t hit rock bottom until he lost all his riches, suffered through an unexpected crisis that brought him down to the ground. He was unprepared, broke and alone. He ended up having to find the worst possible job feeding pigs for a stranger who paid him less than minimum wage. The decisions he made left him in a worse situation than when he was at his Father’s house working and complaining. It took him being empty-handed to come to himself and realize how well his father treated him and the servants!
Even though I didn’t realize it, every time I ignored God, ignored his plan for my life and did my own thing I publicly told the world how badly I wanted my Father in Heaven to die in my life. Every selfish choice I’ve made was a betrayal to God’s face. Just like the Prodigal Son, I did what I wanted, thought I was slick until it led me to a pit of emptiness. This story reveals how badly our lives can get when we take steps and decisions in our hands instead of God’s. Whenever we don’t acknowledge God in all our ways and let him direct our paths it can lead us to some dark places in this world. Breaking away from Jesus Christ will separate us from the sweet relationship, the love, and the guaranteed provision for our lives.
The moment he got tired of having nothing he made the first step back to his father. He saw how much he missed him, loved him and how much his Father loved him. The moment he realized his life could only be great with his Father, he got up and made the journey back home. He left every bad decision behind him and believed that he could be restored. With each step back to his father, he got rid of his selfish ways, his pride, ego and was ready to receive anything his Father would give him. Even if that meant he wouldn’t be his son, but a servant.
Here was my answer! I had to change my direction back to God. I needed to stop carrying my agenda, my plans and carry what God had for my life. You see, the one sure thing about God is that he is waiting for you to return. His love for us doesn’t change because we act selfish, coldhearted or foolish. In the parable, there is no doubt about how much the Father loves both his sons. I imagine the Father in this parable would wake up early in the morning before he sips his coffee and sits on the front porch waiting for his long lost son to return. Every day he sits, expecting to see his beloved son’s face and he doesn’t waiver. He waits all day until most likely, the older son has to beg him to come eat dinner and sleep just to do it again. Just like him, God is waiting even after all the wrong decisions, choices, and steps we’ve made he is undoubtedly waiting for us to come back home.
The beautiful part about this parable is when the son finally comes face to face with his Father, ready to give him an apology, his Father starts supplying all his needs! Unbelievable right! Before the son could even quiver out an “I’m sorry,” his Father gives him everything he had, everything he needs and more. All that he once gave up for what he thought was better is right in front of his face. The heavens are open to him because he is back with the Father (Matthew 3:16). The son isn’t being showered with gifts because of all the bad he did, but how much the Father loves and missed him.
So, the moment when I, myself came back to my Father in heaven, I was blessed with forgiveness, favor, mercy, and I was no longer broke, alone or unsafe. The moment I came back in my Father’s presence, I was overwhelmed with love that I will never throw away again. So, if you are sitting trying to figure out how to solve a problem or you find yourself lost with nothing and no one, just make the first step back to your safe place. Make up in your mind to return to the place and the people who love you and support you. When you begin your journey don’t carry the weight of your past mistakes and errors. Remind yourself how free you will be when you run back to the arms of Christ, to the mother or father you ignored or to a friend. And the moment you return, watch doors be open for you.