My mother says I am not a Prodigal Daughter, but spiritually, I know I am.
If you have ever strayed from the arms of God, or you never realized you were ever in those arms to begin with and then came to the realization that those arms were what kept you from the brink and you want to return, then you are a Prodigal Son or a Prodigal Daughter. This is a place of potential strength and Grace.
I know that I grew up in the American South hearing about God, and I appreciated His beauty as a youthful girl, taking Grace for granted. I know that, when I “grew up” and went north, I strayed a long ways from the path. I went to an Ivy League college with friends of different faiths and respected their viewpoints – erroneously or not. I lived and traveled abroad in Asia and Europe for years, experiencing philosophies and perspectives that refuted that One God even existed, reading Nietzsche and buddhist texts, integrating Shamanism and watching Shinto rites and feeling the presence of “gods and spirits”, but not knowing whence the feeling came. I became a woman well-traveled and well-exposed, but spiritually “on sabbatical” as I called it, intellectually knowing that other faiths had strength and merit, but not knowing yet the source of their strength and merit, or how to integrate it all.
Then Life happened, as it does for all of us. It was my real and progressive experience of Life, the “growing up” of bills and responsibilities, noncommittal love then fiercely committed marriage, intense childbirth, social injustice, financial ruin and redemption, all things that can put you into situations where you will either realize that a forgiving God actually exists and is constantly on the move, or you will experience a fall so deep and miserable that self-reliance cannot promise any lasting recovery.
And Jesus? Nothing in my intellect could reconcile his death and resurrection, or the idea that he would be the only way to heaven. To reject him – even rejection from otherwise “good people” – would be a rejection of God Himself and of Everlasting Life. That’s hard for many to swallow, that is until the soul-wrenching experiences of life and death on this earth pull you through your own searing revelation, until the birth of your own child makes you imagine Mary’s pain with dread – and appreciate a little more how much a sacrifice it was for God to give His only begotten son. Intellect is useless here. All you know is you understand now, that you have gained some wisdom, and you want to come back.
What verses can bring you back? Which verses can deepen your understanding and love? Here are five I’ll share, in hopes they will help you as you grapple and make your way back, as you get back up and renew your walk with God. Read them and see how they speak to you, and if you will recognize His voice in them. These are all translations from the New International Version of the Holy Bible (NIV).
1. Luke 15:24 – “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Here is the story of the Prodigal Son. Although I never ate with the pigs, I identified with the son’s being far away and in the wrong places, then with his redemption and acceptance upon coming home to his father. God wants you back, and will celebrate your return.
2. Matthew 18:12-13 – “…If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” If you are lost, He will find you.
3. Luke 7:44 – “He who has been forgiven little loves little.” This verse is pulled from the story of the sinful woman who loved Jesus so much that she entered a banquet and began to wash his feet with her hair, kissing and perfuming his feet and crying tears in front of the Pharisees who looked down on her. Jesus objected and stood up for her, even though she had sinned a great deal in her past. If you come to Him, he will stand up for you.
4. Colossians 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” What else is there to say? We all have been forgiven for something.
5. Matthew 22:37-39 – “…’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” The most important things to remember.
May God bless and keep you.