In this day and age people can sense when someone is either putting on airs, being fake, not really interested in their situation, or acting “religious and pious;” and truly what they see is the response you will get back in return. If you don’t really care – you shouldn’t be there! We are called to truly love people! LOVE THEM. The way Jesus’ would want. The way Jesus did! Be real! When I meet someone who is either a prodigal or is hurting or who clearly needs to hear God’s message of redemption and love and shares their particular situation with me – I listen. I share. I care. It's not easy to be transparent with someone. You make yourself extremely vulnerable. You expose yourself in a way that most people don't do now a days and for someone to allow themselves to be vulnerable is something no one ministering should take for granted.
There is a reason you go through the things you go through in your walk with the Lord. When you were a baby and you learned how to walk, you didn’t just “walk” on day one – first you learned how to turn your body over. Remember the rejoicing that went on when you rolled over? (Well…. You wouldn’t remember that – but I’ll bet your parents did! They probably hooped and hollered in joy and praise like you graduated from an Ivy League University!) After you rolled over, you soon learned to crawl and eventually raise yourself up. Your first step was one of uncertainty and hesitation. I can still remember the pleased look on each of my three kids faces when they realized they were walking! They were proud of themselves! Kind of like a “hehehe look at me now Ma!” expression on their little faces. Our spiritual walks are the same as our physical. We learn over time - and sometime we fall! But here is the thing, when/if we fall God wants us to get right back up! We are not to sit there on the ground and cry and wallow in our mistakes but to know that God has redeemed us.
In fact, recently I met someone for the first time in my life who had been in jail. They'd been in jail for a crime that they had committed, but now they were out. This was someone with genuine remorse. This was someone who honestly told me their story, when they hadn't had to. I wouldn't have known anything about them at all if they hadn't felt comfortable enough to share their story with me. This is someone who has an absolute beautiful, incredible soul, someone who has gone through so much, but cannot seem to get a second chance by others judgmental views (including the system) because of their past. This is someone who is trying to make a new start at life - but is having trouble getting over the hurdles of their past because others won't allow them to move forward. THIS is someone who has recently come to Christ, honestly made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior - has been born-again. Someone who God has forgiven. Someone who God dearly loves! Someone who deserves to have a second chance at life and happiness. Someone God has a plan for! My heart went out to this individual, because the stigma of the poor decisions they have made in the past is making it difficult for them to have a good chance at moving forward, and they are truly trying! It's no wonder that there is a high percentage of ex-criminals who end up in jail again because they feel as though they are swimming against the tide! That they can't begin again! That society has given up on them and not allowing them to have a fresh start. Not only is this person having to combat getting a fresh start at life, but also has to deal with mire of health issues because of their past! This person has an absolutely beautiful soul, a gentle soul, and while God only had me be in their life a short time - to plant, I pray God will help them get their life on track, heal them and then use them as a powerful way to help others. I know God is able! I pray that God will bring other people into this individual's life and assist them! I know God will and I pray that when God does, this person will "pay it forward" with love and grace and help someone else (or many someones) that have been where they once were. So that God will indeed be glorified. Thank God for a God who loves them and who is a God of second chances! We ALL require "second" chances in our lives - no matter what our past situation has been. We are not called to judge, we are called to LOVE. We are called to minister. We are called to help.
"And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)
I didn't know I would go through a prodigal time in my life. In fact, if you had told me I would, I would have laughed in your face. ME??? Experience WHAT? You are so wrong! It is very true that there is pride before a fall. I fell alright... I fell hard, on my face, with my heart shattered into a million pieces - and while it all came as a surprise to me - guess what? It didn't to God. He knelt down beside me and began to pick up each one of those shattered pieces, and as He picked them up, He kissed each one and He told me, "Kelly, I am going to put you back together. I am going to make your heart stronger, I am going to fill this heart of yours with so much love for people (from ALL walks of life - especially for those so different from your own) that unless you decide to share it with them - they will never know how broken it once was. I am going to fill your heart with a love for me like you have never had before. I am going to renew you. I am going to redeem you. I am going to use you. I am going to heal you - You are mine. I forgive you, I love you and I am here for you." And you know what? I love Him all the more for it. He is my all in all. He is my Savior. He is my God. He is my Lord. He is my Father. He is the Author and the Finisher of my Faith. When I am weak - I run to Him and He makes me strong... I am far from perfect - I am a work in progress - but Oh How I know who I belong to. I know who I trust. I know who I can talk to. I know who I can be real with. He is God. He is the reason I get up in the morning and the reason I lay down at night. The truth is - that as long as I have breath in my body, He will continue teaching me. I probably will continue to make mistakes! LOL After all, I am FAR from perfect. But God did not mean a prodigal experience in our journey to last a life time - only a short time. A time where we can grow and acknowledge and learn to love God in a deeper committed fashion. And if dear one, you have - than allow Him to move you forward and use you. Because if you do, He REALLY will... Only the things we do for Christ will last. What are you doing for Him? Isn't it time you took a real long look at you? Because that is really the "real" of it... Really...