Summary: Part 2 of a 6 part series on the 12 Steps as a Spiritual Discipline
When I was a kid, and I do not remember how old I was but I was still in grade school, I ran away from home. I ‘ran away’ to a former neighbor’s home that had moved one street over from the street I lived on.
I remember hiding under the bed in one the children’s rooms and having the mom and the kids trying to get me out from underneath it. A phone call was made to my home and eventually I ended up back at home (and I cannot remember if I rode my bike home or my dad came to get me).
My parents, especially my dad, were extremely irate with me. And he let me know in no uncertain terms that the consequence of my actions was to be grounded to my short street of 7 houses for a week! I have no doubt that today such actions would probably trigger an ‘Amber Alert’ and generate a great deal of media coverage because of the tragic results when a young child or teen runs away or is abducted.
In our main text for this morning, we have a young man who intentionally and knowingly runs away. He runs away from his family, he runs away from his friends, he runs away from love, he runs away from responsibility, and he runs away from himself. (At least for a little while.) Ultimately, as the real meaning of the story unfolds, he runs away from the Father.
This is the second sermon in a 6 part series, ’12 Steps to God’s Way of Living.’ It began last week with a Biblical examination of two important first steps that we can take to live life God’s way. (Overhead 1)
Step 1 is the step of admission: We admitted we were powerless over our rut, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2 is the step of belief: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
We read in Hebrews 11:6 “Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” This verse is an important verse to understand, remember, and believe because for us to get out of our ruts, we have to believe that God is and that He wants us to live victoriously in life.
This verse is also important for this morning as we learn the next two steps to God’s way of living. For if, we believe that God is; that He does exist; and that He cares about us and for us, then we can take them with a greater confidence and faith. (Overhead 2)
Step 3 is the step of surrender: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the power of God, as we understood Him.
Step 4 is the step of taking stock: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
A familiar Bible story illustrates how one person took these two steps and the results that happened as a result. It is the story of the lost or prodigal son.
Some of us this morning perhaps see ourselves in the father’s role. We have a child or a friend that has wandered far away from the faith and relationships of their childhood. We are anxious and we are concerned about their lives and their choices. Our hearts are heavy and understandably so.
Some of us here this morning do not see ourselves in the father’s role. We do not have a friend or family member ‘out there’ away from God and faith, stuck in a rut. We are aware that we are the lost son the prodigal son, we are far away from what is really right and true and real. Our rut has got us in a bind and we have awoke to the truth, like the son did, that it is better back at home with the Father. However, how do we get there from here?
Again, I give credit where credit is due for the outlines of this series. They are based on the work of Pastor Marty Grubbs from Oklahoma City who freely gave them to pastors after a conference here in Northeast Indiana two years ago.
One of my colleagues the other day said to me that this story, this parable, really illustrates all 12 Steps. I told him that at some point, this passage of scripture would be the main text and here it is!
Some time back I preached a sermon based on a question that came to my mind one day as I read this passage of scripture, ‘From what was the prodigal running?’ And it is a question that I think others have asked as well because this son seemed to have it all and did not need anything.