Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Or the Older Sister?

Chapter 6 in Do You Think I'm Beautiful by Angela Hunt makes personal Luke 15: 11-32, what is commonly referred to as the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

I will have to agree with Wendy who said at the Prayer Retreat, "I always thought I was the prodigal son then found out I was the elder brother!"
BTW, another prayer retreat/book connection. God thinks of EVERYTHING!

Believe it or not, being the elder brother can sometimes take us farther from
God's heart than being the prodigal.

There is something inside us elder-brother types that believes if we can
just keep all the rules, make wise choices, and live sacrificially, that's it.
That's what God requires and, boom, we're in the club. He must surely approve of
our efforts. He must be more pleased with us than those scalawags who come and
go. We are as loyal as the day is long. We're proud of our humility and service.
We don't quite understand why everyone can't choose as we have.

Gross. describing my elder-brother tendencies makes me feel queasy. It's
uncomfortable when these truths hit so close to home.

The prodigal knew he was a sinner BUT the elder brother could
not see his own sinfulness.
The elder brother thought the Father loved him because he was
so hardworking and faithful.
Because the elder brother had not known grace, he was not able
to extend grace.
The elder brother was bound by unforgiveness. > You and I
will never be asked to forgive someone more than we have already been forgiven
by God. Kind of puts it all in perspective, don't you think?
The elder brother didn't know that he had always possessed the
riches of his Father.
The elder brother didn't hear the music with his heart. He
didn't know he'd been invited to the dance.

The elder brother...feels like the victim and wonders why the prodigal
seems to be getting a break while he stayed home and can't seem to get anywhere.
His self-righteousness is fueled by fear, pain and sorrow; not trusting
motives of the Father.

Have you ever wrestled with God?
(Wendy brought this up at the prayer retreat also when talking about Jacob. !!)

The all night wrestling match that I remember most vividly dealt with this issue of trust, succinctly put, "How can I trust You with my children knowing first hand that you let bad, painful things happen to Your children?"

We forget that He understands. Angela reminds us of these verses:

Isaiah 53:3
He was despised and rejected by men,
a Man of Sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

4 Surely He took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered Him stricken by God,
smitten by Him, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open his mouth;
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so He did not open his mouth.

12b For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Whether you find yourself as the prodigal or the elder brother, the answer is the same. Take everything that keeps you from His arms to the cross and leave it there.

Keep taking them there until they are no longer yours.

Grace is the hand of God that reaches into the fire and rescues us from above. Grace is the reason [we] can hold up our heads and return to the Father.

Grace is having been the prodigal or the elder brother who is coming home empty-handed, surprised to find that God runs, scoops you up into His arms, looks into your eyes, and still calls you beautiful.

"Lord, show me when I'm having elder-brother or prodigal tendencies. Remind me of Your grace. Keep me in step with You in this life dance."

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