Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Prodigal Son

“So I guess being an Italian girl from Jersey, you’re Catholic, right?”  Wow, that’s quite a question being that I just met this guy when he sat next to me on a flight from Charlotte to Norfolk…even better was his response when I told him I was a born again Christian.  “Born again?  Really?  What made you do that?”  Who is this guy?  Don’t get me wrong, I loved that he asked.  It gave me the opportunity to share part of my testimony so he could see God’s grace.  But, pretty bold for someone I don’t know.

The fact is, there are plenty of people in my life who are wondering the same thing.  Some have asked and I love it!  But, I know there are others in my life who would love to ask but don’t really know how. 

I will admit, before I was saved, I didn't understand it.  I never heard of ‘being saved’ and ‘born again’ until I moved to Virginia.  I made a bunch of unfair assumptions.  I didn't really want to hear what people had to say about being saved.  I was raised Catholic.  I knew about God.  I prayed.  So, why did I need to be saved?  What’s funny to me now is I don’t understand why everyone else isn't saved. 

I could easily share my testimony.  But, that would be a long, long post.  If you’re interested in the whole story, reach out to me.  I’d love to share it with you.

Synopsis:  my marriage was much less than I was hoping for, I was angry, impatient and disrespectful.  I was not a good wife, not a good mother.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn't out plotting crimes or intentionally hurting those I love but, I wasn't playing the by the rules, either.  I went to Wave Church to save my marriage.  I had no idea I’d get saved, too.  I met Jesus Christ one day during a women’s service and I accepted His gift of salvation.  I changed dramatically.  I became less angry, more patient and showed people the respect they deserved.  I started to forgive and forget as the bible teaches, and I started making a conscious effort to show people the love Jesus teaches us to show.  I was delivered from the things that were ruining me.  This all happened once I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior (being saved) and was subsequently baptized (born again).  Slowly but surely, my marriage was restored. 

But is my testimony really enough for people?  I've been saved for two years now.  Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder why people don’t give their lives over to Jesus.  I just can’t wrap my head around it.  Don’t they want what I and so many others have?  Don’t they want true peace that runs deep into their souls?  Don’t they want to experience truly unconditional love, redemption, forgiveness, happiness, and joy?  The list could go on and on.  What is it about being born again that makes some people so uncomfortable?   
It was a few things for me.  I wonder if it’s similar for you…

  • Fear of losing your “freedom”.  What I think you aren't realizing is, you’re far from free.  You’re enslaved.  You’re a slave to sin and the shame that comes with it.  You’re in bondage.  Freedom comes from redemption.  Freedom comes when you surrender your life to the one who created it.  Freedom comes when you stop living in the lie that you’re happy and you realize the true happiness of living your life the way it was created for you to live it.  Freedom comes from your salvation.  You’re being held captive until you let Jesus in and allow Him to pull you to safety, to freedom. 

  • Shame and fear that your sordid passed is so bad, you’re not worthy of the gift of salvation and forgiveness.  Something that is constantly repeated in church is “Shame off you”.   When I first heard that, it blew my mind wide open.  I had never heard those words before.  Shame off you?  Really?  What a concept.  I thought God was vengeful and that the punishment for my sins would be so great, I couldn't handle facing it.  This is what I had been taught.  There I was at 35, learning there was no shame.  That nothing I've done was so bad that God couldn't forgive me for it.  That God had already forgiven me for it.  All I had to do was repent and accept that forgiveness.  All I had to do was accept the gift of freedom from the chains that bound me.

So now, I pose a question to you.  What is it?  What’s the reason you won’t give your life over in full surrender and accept Jesus Christ into your life and heart as your savior?
I leave you with this final story.  You probably know it well.  It’s the parable of the prodigal son.  (Luke 15:11-32)  In a nutshell, the son made some serious mistakes and lost his inheritance.  He came back with his tail tucked between his legs expecting his father to condemn him. Instead, his father prepared a huge feast for him and celebrated his return.  

This is what God, our father, does for us when we return to Him.  He and all the heavens celebrate our return.  We distance ourselves from Him.  We squander away our inheritance of the Kingdom of God and think we've gone too far to ever turn back.  But, forgiveness is ours.  We just have to accept it.

…to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven. — Luke 1:76-77
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:7

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