|Forgiveness is Not Just About Forgiving Others - How 'About Forgiving Yourself? Hmmmm... It Might Be One Of the Most Difficult Things You Ever Do...|
You see - that is what prodigals are suppose to do. They are suppose to grow. They are suppose to learn, they are suppose to move forward... Not stay stagnant. Not wallow in their prodigal situation. What have I learned from my prodigal experience? I have learned much of what I already deep inside knew...
- You cannot hide from God. Nothing surprises Him. You at your worst does not shock Him. Does not make him love you less. The Bible tells us in Psalm 139:1-4 "He knows your thoughts before you even think them." - Guess what? Hard as you might try - you cannot shock God. (Good try though! ;) )
- We serve a God who will use our mistakes, our sins, our weakness to glorify Himself to others. I'll bet you thought God couldn't/wouldn't use you... WRONG. You see, God looks at your heart. When you gave your life to Him - You gave it! There are no "takesy-backseys." The best teacher is sometimes experience. It may not be the route that God wanted for you. Not the easiest route to take - BUT I personally think that sometimes experience is the best teacher. Maybe God allows us to go through prodigal moments in our lives because we will be able to serve Him better with what we've learned... And the deepest lesson I have learned over the last five years is that - it is NOTHING but His grace, His love, His mercy, His forgiveness that has saved ME. There truly is no degree of sin. Sin is Sin. We all sin, we all fall short the glory of God. It is only through the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ that has cleared a pathway and made us able to come boldly before the Father's thrown and ask for help, for forgiveness, for guidance.
- Throughout the Bible God has used "imperfect people." People that most of the time you wouldn't guess that He would use. Why? Because God shares His glory with NO man. Perhaps also He decided, knowing that the Bible was written for YOU and for ME that He needed to put some seriously "faulted" people in the telling of it, so that we could realize that He could ALSO use US. How could we possibly relate to people in the Bible who have not encountered all the questions, all the short comings, all the problems that we - in our present time have come up against? The Bible tells us that there is NOTHING new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Those are just three examples of what I have learned. I have also learned that when God forgives you - He FORGIVES YOU and that we need to learn to walk in that forgiveness AND to forgive OURSELVES. Stop beating yourself up! Perhaps you chose the worst of paths to go down - but did you learn from it? Has it made you a better (or more humble) person? Are you able to use what you have learned from your prodigal journey to help someone else who may be in the same situation? God USES people! Hopefully whatever you are experiencing (or have experienced) has made you a more compassionate person. I know it has me. I have a better understanding of human nature. I know that "there go I BUT for the grace of God." You see? What realization have YOU come to? (Or are you still the middle of your lesson - and that is okay too - because you won't be "stuck" there forever). You cannot hide from God. You cannot surprise God. But you CAN surprise yourself.
Life is a series of lessons. I believe they last until you take your last breath. God is always teaching us, allowing us to grow - revealing things to us that give us a better understanding of ourselves. The only thing we have to be - is open to receive them! I am still discovering ME. I am still learning about ME. And that is okay. Why? Because I'm honest about it.
Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis sinned and tried to hide from God. I never understood how they could do that? Think that they could hide what they did before God. A God who is all seeing, all knowing? But here is the thing - that is something that we still TRY to do today. Hide from God. It is pointless because we simply can't. He is omnipotent. All seeing, all knowing. It is similar to that game we use to play with our toddler children. Peek-a-boo. When we would hide our face with our hands, then part our fingers and say "peek-a-boo!" Now I don't know about your children, but my children would laugh and giggle in delight. Where was mommy's face? Where did it go? Ohhhhh there it is! Oh how they loved that game. But here is the thing, mommy was NEVER really hid! And in the case of our Heavenly Father - neither are WE.
Be honest with God about where you are spiritually. Talk to Him openly. Share what you are going through, what you are feeling. You are in a personal relationship with Him. So be open, because He knows ANYWAY - but He wants to hear it from YOU.
Moving forward from having a prodigal moment is one that takes time. Some experience being a prodigal longer than others. But the lessons you learn are life changing. And here is what I can say most of all - RESTORATION. There is nothing like it. When the prodigal in the Bible went rushing into the welcoming arms of his father, I'll bet it was the best hug he ever received. I'll bet the appreciation for his father was like nothing he'd ever known. I'll bet from that moment on, because of his prodigal journey he listened more attentively to what his father said. He didn't take one moment of "togetherness" time for granted. Maybe he came back with a clearer understanding of the important things in life. And realized that it was not in worldly goods - and that his father had not "deprived" him of worldly experiences, like he thought he had had. Maybe he came back to his father realizing that everything wanted - he had already had. He just hadn't realized it.
Coming back is a slow journey. Each step is hard. The enemy fights you ALL the way with taunts that almost make you want to turn around - but you realize you can't. You HAVE to go forward. It is a slow and painful process full of realizations and self-discovery.
What have I gained back? Something I cannot put a price on. Something I will not ever take for granted and something that cannot come or be substituted in any other way. And that is "The peace that passes all understanding." Peace. Knowledge that God LOVES me. (And here is the thing - He never stopped!)