Last year, a dream was placed on the heart of a girl who had a deep passion for Jesus. She left everything she knew behind her to pursue a calling she believed in. Things didn’t go as she imagined. Conflict arose and she didn’t know how to cope. Suddenly, she found herself choosing a path she had never taken. A path opposite of everything she believed in.
That girl was me. Though this features my story, it isn’t about me. It’s about the prodigal son. So follow me in Jesus’ parable in Luke 15. Here it is, step-by-step, how to return to God just like the son in the story.
Find Offense with God
“And the younger [son] said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’…” (Lk 15:12)
This statement shows a complete disregard for any familial relationship with his parent. Why is that? Because somewhere in the son’s heart, he had become offended with his dad.
Even as believers, we can become convinced that God is somehow holding out on us or doing things His way doesn’t work. In this way, we make a conscious decision to believe that we know better than God. And that is the beginning of dangerous territory.
Last year, I moved 12 hours away from my hometown to attend a ministry program. I had to quit my job and depend completely on financial support in order for this to work out. After only a month in a new city and state, I found myself homeless for 3 weeks. I felt like God had failed me and became depressed. This opened the door for offense which would become my rebellion.
Do It Your Own Way
So after taking his father’s money, the son moves away from his family and spends it all on “prodigal living” (15:13).
It’s human nature to become offended with God. The proper way to deal with it is to cry out to Him, “Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Acting on that offense is what leads us into sin.
After several other circumstances I didn’t understand, I became a ministry school dropout. I chose to pursue my own sinful lifestyle that I previously chose to abstain from. It was exciting at first as if I was experiencing what I had been “missing out on” all my life. I felt like I was getting some sort of revenge on God.
After the son wasted all his money, famine came. Uh-oh. What was there left for him to do? How was he going to eat? No one helped him out, and he was stuck (15:14-16).
In the book of Jeremiah and several other places in the bible, God accuses His people of building broken cisterns that can’t keep water (Jeremiah 2:13). Nothing we do in our own merit will keep us satisfied for long. Occasionally, a person needs to come to the end of himself to realize that.
I came to my realization. This way of life wasn’t making me happy, and I could no longer ignore the new void in my life. I tried to fill it with all kinds of different things. I even turned to meditation and other forms of spirituality to find peace. But it was all in vain.
Recognize your Father
The son then realizes that he’s living off worse than even the servants of his father’s household (15:17)! But he figured he probably insulted his father and no longer held his son status, so maybe his dad would let him come back as a servant.
It’s not enough to recognize that we are barren in ourselves. We have to realize He is our fountain of living waters (Jer 2:13, Jn 4:10). He has more than enough to keep us satisfied, so going back to Him has to be better than starving on our own.
Do you feel like you chose to walk away from God and it’s not really working out for you? It’s never too late to go back. I had done some pretty disgusting things and pretty much spit in God’s face. But I came back. Later, I’ll provide more detail about my story. But remember how I said at the beginning it’s not about me? It’s because it’s about you. It’s about us. The entire church is full of human people. We’ve all had our moments but what separates us from those outside the church is we chose to come back.
To be continued . . .