Summary: This is the first of a two-part series on the parable of the lost son. Heading into the New Year, this first message looks closely at the story of the lost son and the good news we have of a fresh start.
When God Doesn’t Want to Hear It
I sat at my desk staring blankly at the screen with a bit of a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t know exactly where to begin, and I wasn’t even sure God wanted to hear it. I had just scrolled through the pages of a Word document where I keep my password-protected journal. Thank God for password-protected documents!
I won’t say that I journal every day, but I do try to keep a regular journal. My journal is really just a very long conversation with God, and it’s a place where I’m completely frank about my walk with Him. It’s not a place for “unspoken” prayer requests, but a place where I have some of my most intimate conversations with my Creator.
There are moments in life where we find ourselves ready to burst with joy at the realization that God has blessed us beyond measure. These are the kind of days when my fingers fly across the keyboard, fumbling across each other as I virtually shout God’s praises…days when I look into the eyes of my three little girls and feel the awesome wonder that comes from the knowledge that God Almighty has trusted me with their care…days when I am blown away by my crazy hot wife who puts up with my lunacy and odd behavior…days when I am inspired by the evidence of God’s presence in the growth of a new Christian…days when I am thankful for God’s miraculous provision when my wife and I were worried about meeting a financial obligation…days when the Seahawks look like they might be bound for a game in February. Those are great days, and it’s fun to type feverishly in my journal.
There are other moments in life when we find ourselves ready to burst for completely different reasons. Have you ever noticed that even though we are brothers and sisters in Christ that we can actually have moments with each other that you might call…oh…I don’t know…unpleasant….maybe even a little upsetting…perhaps frustrating…maddening? Let’s be honest, there are days when my fingers are flying across the keyboard as I vent my anger or frustrations with God…when I’m tempted to type those kinds of words that spell-check probably won’t recognize. Those aren’t great moments.
There are some days when my fingers are very deliberate, methodical…days when I’m very contemplative or deep in thought…when I choose each word very carefully and slowly. Maybe these are days when I simply fill the space in my journal with adjectives for God. There are days when my own words aren’t sufficient and I type the words of a song or a hymn that communicates my thoughts to God with greater clarity and poetry than my own heart can express.
There are all kinds of moments we have in life, and there are all sorts of ways we express our thoughts and feelings to the Father. This particular day, however, I just didn’t know where to begin. I’m not sure if it’s the same for everybody, but I find that I’m particularly reflective whenever we approach a New Year. I don’t always make resolutions, but I do always take some time to think about where I’ve come from and where I’m heading.
A few weeks ago, as I read through some of the entries during this past year, I became discouraged as I began to notice a pattern in my walk that I’m not comfortable with. Not only did I notice a pattern, but there were four distinct issues that I needed to deal with. I sat staring blankly at the computer screen unable to type with my fingers because they were too busy covering my face in shame and disappointment. Immediately, I began to ask myself the kinds of questions we sometimes face in the refining process: How long will God be patient with me? If I tell Him I’m sorry again, will He even believe me…will He even listen? With all that I need to change, where do I even begin?
I sat there…in silence…unsure where to begin. Have you ever been there? Have you ever found yourself at a point on your journey where you were so discouraged or so overwhelmed that you weren’t even sure where to begin…where you weren’t even sure if God was around? We begin a new year this week, and I would like us to take some time this morning to examine the path that our journey has taken us on during this past year.
One of the unfortunate patterns we see in Scripture is that the people of God continually fail Him. I’ve been working my way through the first five books of the Bible for the past few months, and it blows my mind how many times God’s people fail. While the failure of God’s people may be an unfortunate pattern, the fortunate pattern is that God doesn’t ever seem to be too surprised by that. We seem to find a God who is patient and who possesses a love we can’t possibly comprehend with our limited understanding.