Lately I've been confronted with my attitudes about God and about life. I just (re)read Timothy Keller's wonderful book, The Prodigal God. It recaps the story of the prodigal son in a very intelligent and spiritually profound way. And as in all good writing, I immediately recognized myself. The prodigal in the story is really God, the father figure, who graciously dealt with his two sons, both of whom served him and "loved" him for selfish ends. The younger wanted his stuff NOW, and the elder wanted all the stuff he lost because the younger wanted his NOW. At any rate, the father was not served out of unselfish love for himself, but for what he could provide. The younger son finally came to understand this and came back with a plan to pay it back and just be like a hired man, not a son. It was the only way to make things right. The elder was there in body, but would not come back in his heart, would not join the party, wanted nothing to do with anyone unless he got his rightful share because his demands were based on his performance and no more. He felt he deserved it. Which, by law, yes, he did, but he thought nothing of what his demands cost the father and the younger brother...the damage was done and nothing could soothe his resentment. The relationships in ruin unless his heart changed.
How I recognize this picture. I get so upset and unsettled because I can't perform like I used to. I can't make art like I once did, I can't compete in the world like I once so confidently felt I could. My resentment and fear dominates my heart. And then I realize-without God, nothing makes sense. Without vital loving relationship, without His approval and love, it doesn't matter anyway. And I grieve, not knowing how to connect with Him. The father's plea to the elder son in the story was, come to the party. Just come in. The son stood in a doorway, in indecision and stubborn pride. I realized, I don't know how to come in any more. I feel frozen in a doorway of time in my life and it hurts so much. How do I make this right? As I pondered this and read my other book of the moment, The Heart of the Artist, God whispered. Why would He do this for me? Why? He whispered, when you enter into worship of Me, you come into the party. Don't be afraid. Just come to worship. After all the dryness, after the torment of not connecting in familiar ways for so long...it was then that I went to the church with the original art in it. Talk about a shout from heaven!! Why Lord, oh why do you do these things to love me as you do? My part is to simply respond. Respond to your pleas, come in, come to the table. Eat with me. How many images in scripture correspond to that invitation? Behold, I stand at the door and knock...He prepares a table in the presence of my enemies and my cup overflows, the marriage supper of the Lamb, constant invitations...just come and eat. Oh God, how I want to eat and be satisfied.