This journal entry is from August 20, 2019. During a time when I was moving in and out of the different stages of grief, I was reading through the gospel of Luke, and God gave me a glimpse of how he loves me and pursues me, even in my failure.
Reading today from Luke 15, the Prodigal son…well-known story…now applied to my life that is in turmoil and one where I am struggling with the internal battle of guilt.
My mind is spinning most of the day with thoughts that all of this turmoil, all the pain right now, is probably my fault. Deep down inside, it sure seems like it must be me. I must have brought this all on. No, I cannot pinpoint how or what, but it is my first thought in the face of failure, my internal wiring is faulty, singed by sin. My internal battles rage these days.
Often, when we focus too much on our own failures, we don’t reach the point where grace changes us. Let me re-word that. When I focus too much on my failures, I do not reach the point where God’s grace changes me. Why I said “often”, I do not know. Why did I say “we” when I really am examining my own heart. Self-focus, I know personally, causes the waters of grace to be mirky and hard to see. When I focus on myself, I cannot see the grace-working change that God is wanting to perform on my heart.
God cleared the water today. Will it last more than a few hours, or will my internal battle come back?
The parable of the Prodigal Son comforts people who are caught up and brought down by their failures. It has to. The grace and love of the father in this story is too dramatic not to give me comfort.
Too often I have heard that this parable is about the younger son, no, its about the older son — but isn’t it really about the father’s pursuit of both of his sons?
God is in the limelight in this parable. Today, he reminds me that his love for me has no equal and is not limited by any obstacles, including my failures.
After living selfishly and squandering his inheritance, the younger son realized how foolish his actions had been. He realized that even his father’s hired hands received more love and attention than he had received after leaving his father’s house. Deciding to plead for mercy, the younger son rehearsed his request to the father: “I will set out and go to my father and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight! I am no longer worthy to be called your son! Make me like one of your hired workers.’ ” (Luke 15:18–19).
God, you know that I too have failed and squandered my blessings. Oh, the number of times, post-failure, that I have come up with a plan of what to say to you, the excuses I have made, the deals that I have come up with so that you will look the other way in mercy! I cannot count the times that I have come begging to be let off the hook! And oh, how I misunderstand you and how you love me. How far is my understanding of the righteousness of your Son that has been credited to my dirty, filthy, failure-ridden account!? Thank you that this story knocks me back to my knees!
The son had it all figured out. He knew what he was going to say to get back into good graces with his father.
However, the son’s plan was interrupted. Before the son even finished his request, his father kissed him, put a robe around his neck, and ordered the fattened calf to be killed.
And then the father repeated this action. When the elder son refused to attend the party in his brother’s honor, the father again went out to meet his son, imploring him to rejoice as well (Luke 15:28, 31–32).
God pursues failures of all types. Pursues. He pursues me. It’s His grace extended to us that works in our hearts to prompt change in us. Even when I neglect Him, He pursues me. Even when I don’t return His attention, He pursues me. Instead of focusing on our failures, then, we (there I go again), — I should focus on His love.
I should focus on his love, rather than on my failures. Repeat this today!
God’s grace, and his pursuit of me, must change the way that I relate to him!!
Lord of grace, Father of enduring love, you have grabbed my attention today, the attention of my heart was far from you…it was on myself, my failures. Thank you for turning it back to you and your pursuing, radical love that you are demonstrating to me daily! Lord, I want to overcome the battle within me, those voices that blame myself, that wallow in failure…change my mind, change my heart.