When we’re going in a bad direction in our lives, drifting from God, or maybe even have turned our back on him completely, God stays with us, He doesn’t abandon us. He’ll try to get in any way He can to help us get going in the right direction.
One of the most well known stories that Jesus told, was about the prodigal son:
“There was a man who had two sons.The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
In this story, it sounds like the deplorable state the son had gotten into didn’t fully sink in until he was just totally down and out; no place to stay, half starving, maybe even fighting with the pigs to try to wrangle some of their food from them. Then he started seriously contemplating a path back home to his father’s house.
When he got himself back to his father’s house, he was received with warm open arms, all was forgiven, and all of his needs were taken care of again. After that I would think he must have wondered why he didn’t get back to his father’s house earlier, before he got into such a drastic state.
I imagine God must have been working on him at various stages long before he decided to come back home. Even before he left, I’m sure he must have felt the tug in his heart that what he was doing was wrong.
Then, after he left and started blowing away all his money, his dad’s money in reality, he must have fought off a guilty conscience. When all of the money was gone, the thought must have come to him, that “wow, this has not ended well, I’m on the wrong track”. He may have thought that, but could well have concluded, that he couldn’t return home, he would never be accepted after what he’d done.
When he got to such a bad state that he didn’t care anymore whether he would be accepted, ridiculed, or whatever, that things couldn’t be any worse than they already are, he decided to head back home. At least there was some possible hope if he returned, maybe he could work as a servant for his dad and have something to eat, some kind of place to stay.
I think the father would have welcomed him back with love and forgiveness if he would have returned at any of those stages in his life. That’s what it’s like with God, he’s ready to take us in and work with us, regardless of where we’re at in life. We don’t have to wait until we get to some miserable nearly hopeless state.
Now we might feel that we can’t relate where we’re at in life to what happened to the prodigal son, because we haven’t squandered an inheritance, and we’re doing okay; we’re not hungry or lacking, we’re not really running away from God.
Yet we might be in a very similar state to the prodigal son if we’re living our lives selfishly, pursuing our own goals and ambitions instead of God’s purpose and design for our lives. Our spirit might be hungry, even starving and in a very poor state because we’re not nourishing it.
If we realize the state we’re in and have a desire to get things right with our father, our Maker, and for our spirit to be nourished, as Jesus said, if we seek we will find, if we ask, it will be given to us, if we knock, it will be opened to us.
As soon as God sees us heading in his direction, he’ll come running to take us into our arms and welcome us into a whole new world of peace and satisfaction.