I’m preaching on March 14–and we’re using the story of the prodigal son and the theme “Be honest with God.”
As I was working on my preparation, I got to thinking about the last year or two in my life. I can remember a time when I wasn’t really honest–with God or anyone else. I was angry about decisions that were made that affected me, but without considering me. And because I didn’t feel safe in sharing my feelings, I kept them bottled up. Or at least I thought I did. What that actually meant was that they exploded at times and at persons who were not at fault.
Finally I realized I couldn’t go on that way. I spent several sessions with a counselor–and that helped. But it wasn’t until I decided that I needed to be honest with God that things began to change…to heal. God was big enough to absorb my anger–to let me vent without going away. When I was finally honest–open with my fears, my resentment, my anger–that opened the door. There were times when God challenged me–challenged me to take responsibility. Not for the decisions I couldn’t control, but for my reactions to them. Times when I was challenged to pray for those individuals who had hurt me…and believe me, that was hard! But as I did that, I began to see them in different ways. They’re still not my favorite people–but I can work with them when I need to. And because I changed in my reactions toward them, they changed in their reactions with me. I don’t know if they even recognized it…but I did.
It’s an ongoing process–much like I think must have occurred with the prodigal son and his family. Just returning didn’t make everything fine. In fact, there’s a significant part of the story that we really don’t know much about…the older brother, whose left out in the field, sulking. But the process is underway…and I’m so much happier than I was a year ago. Yes, there are still issues…concerns…challenges… But I can smile through them (mostly!)–because I know that I am a beloved child of God…and so are the folks who irritate me. And we’re all doing the best we can…