Luke 15:11-32 is perhaps one of the most beautiful stories of restoration in the Bible.
Many of us know this story as that of the prodigal son, the young man who took his inheritance and left for a distant land, squandering everything his father gave him on prostitutes and 'wild' living. Eventually there was a famine and his money ran out, leaving him to struggle for survival while all alone and knee-deep in a pig pen. We also know how the story ends, the young man wrapped safely in the arms of his father. There are several key events that took place to bring this young man from the pig farm back to his father's palace. I want to focus on one of them in Part 2 of this series on restoration.
While hungry and in absolute desperation, the Bible says that this young man 'came to himself'. He then made this profound statement:
"I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him..." (Luke 1:18)
One word can sum up this sentence: RESPONSIBILITY. He alone was to blame for his 'situation' and determined to do a very hard thing, go back home and take responsibility for his failures. He knew he had to go meet with someone, and he knew he needed to say some things. This is so important and it even preceded something which came directly after, something I will write about in a few days.
I personally believe that the overwhelming reason that many people are not able to be restored is due to a failure to take responsibility for their actions. It's a problem that has been around since the fall of man; Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent. Nobody likes to take the bull by the horns and say; "It is me. I'm guilty. I'm the one to blame." Why is it so hard to take FULL responsibility? Several reasons quite possibly; fear of rejection, a destroyed reputation, loss of friends, and I would even say self-deception (you place the blame on others for your own personal failures). So in an effort to protect these areas, we will hide, mask, or slant our 'story' in such a way to make us appear to be the victim.
If you truly long for restoration, then you have to:
- Embrace the possibility of rejection.
- Be willing to let go of your reputation.
- Be open to the reality of losing friends (true friends will stand by you, especially if you take responsibility).
- Deal with any self-deception.
Taking responsibility for your sin (people hate that word today) opens you up to a beautiful door called 'brokenness'. A person who refuses to take responsibility is a person who is not broken. The Bible says clearly; "The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God." (Psalm 51:17)
Years ago I was in desperate need of restoration. I was miserable and afraid. I decided from the beginning to take full responsibility for my actions. I met with my wife, children, parents, and a couple of pastors who were close to me. When I met with them I resolved to 'put it all out there.' I disregarded my reputation, prepared for complete rejection, and accepted that I would lose close friends. I was ready for a hammer to fall on me from everyone. I found much of the opposite to be true. Today, my marriage is better than it has ever been, our children are absolutely incredible, my parents are the best, and my pastor friends are still that...close friends. However, if I had not taken responsibility for my actions, I am most certain that last sentence would need to be completely re-written.
How about you? What could change in your life right now if you would simply take responsibility?
Special Note: If you are someone in need of help, in need of restoration, whether you are a pastor, a spouse, a businessman/woman...and you need to talk to somebody, click here and send me a message. I love you and am praying for you. You can make it!