Monday, October 12, 2009

Prodigals Are Temporarily Prodigal

A friend of mine has lost his noodles. Gone a little nuts. When I look at his myspace web site, I’m deeply saddened.

Yet, as I look over the pictures of carousing and cruising and of near-naked women, the Holy Spirit quickly reminds me that He lives in my friend. He made my friend a son of God. Since I know I’m hearing from Him, I have to ask, “And what are you doing with my friend?” His reply is reassuring: “I’m ushering him to burnout. He’s having a Prodigal Walk . . . but He will return.”

You know, I’m coming to rely upon what God can do with people more and more, and my confidence and rest increase as I do.

There was a time when, after looking at my friend’s web site, I would have immediately tracked him down, sat him down, and given him a good “What do you think you’re doing, you numbskull?!” talk. I would have done everything within reason to wake him up and shake him loose from his lunacy, including the use of a defibrillator. “STAND BACK, EVERYONE—CLEAR!” That ought to do it. And I think I might have liked watching his body jump from the table, his chest surging skyward. At least I would know that I was having an effect.

But, in this case at least, after I’ve checked with the Spirit about my friend, all I have for him is love. If I were to see my friend face to face, I would love him and hug him and say something brilliant (“I love you”), and then probably do it again. Nothing more? Nope. Why not? Because I’m simply full of trust that God is well aware and perfectly capable with His son, my friend, a temporary prodigal. There is nothing I need to do.

Reminds me of a situation from centuries ago.

Nobody ran after Prodigal Pablo in Luke 15 in order to talk him out of his course of action. Daddy didn’t write a letter to alert a cousin in “a distant country” as to his son’s arrival—please knock some sense into him. And God didn’t send a talking donkey or an angel or a plague of locusts after his boy, either.

It’s almost like God knows what’s going on. Hmm . . . Could it be?

I think the picture is that God knew Prodigal Pablo could be prodigal only so long. Eventually, he would “come to his senses” and high-tail it back home where he belonged and where he fit in (Lk 15:17). By nature a prodigal doesn’t stay prodigal. He can’t. He won’t.

Writing this, my hope is that when my prodigal comes to his senses and begins his return he won’t be greeted by shame-sayers and puffed-up know-it-alls. “I warned you, didn’t I?! Man! You were so stupid! What an idiot!” I hope he will be greeted the way Prodigal Pablo’s dad welcomed him home: You were a royal son when you left, a royal son in that distant country, and you’re a royal son today. I mean to convince you of it, too, so let’s get that crap off you and get you back in clothes that reveal who you really are . . . I see who you are, even if you don’t.

It will be good to have him back. Maybe we’ll throw him a party and celebrate.

Rom 2:4 “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?” (NIV)


  1. Chris Welch8:03 PM

    We all blow it.Big time. But the amazing thing's not that God is soft with's just that He knows the law of sin and death is in place to shock it's almost as though He's relaxed...and all He seems to do is say" Right now!" almost like we've returned from a comfort break or something, or perhaps sneezed violently mid conversation...."Right now..ready to go on then with My Kingdom projects then?" "Er Yes"secretly feeling very small that He is still considering us for the job."Right that's good then. Now, what we're going to do next is you are going to speak into being such and such, and it will be so." "What me?But I've failed so badly" "I know. It did get in the way a bit. But My plans for You have not changed. You are still in Me, and I'm still rolling out My projects through you." "But shouldn't I be repenting a bit more?" "To set the mind on the Spirit is Life and peace. If you are already caught up with Me and My NOW Word,this will keep you...this is your repentance."
    Chris Welch

  2. Craig Snyder8:04 PM

    Boy Ralph, this is great stuff. I am so grateful to our Father for you and the wisdom He has give you. You are a special brother.

  3. Rod Pruitt8:05 PM

    Great "note" have no idea how timely. Thanks for listening to our Father. You're a good son.

  4. Dave Geisler8:05 PM

    "I’m coming to rely upon what God can do with people more and more, and my confidence and rest increase as I do."

    You and I you I would have had a good talkin or beatin (if talking doesn't work) in Jesus name on that poor many times have I tried to play God when all along He knew what He was doing...seems so foolish now that I see the folly of my ways in light of God's Omnipotence.

  5. Jack Cook8:06 PM

    I know there were a few times I should have been "beaten". Other times there were other people who I wanted to "beat" but........I came back without the beating. I lost touch with those who I wanted to beat so I leave it with the Lord to see if they came back. But "temporarily prodigal" sounds like such a relief vs "eternally prodigal."

  6. Cheryl York Olmstead8:20 PM

    I love this, Ralph.

  7. Jessica Robertson10:50 PM

    Wonderfully written, wonderfully timed.

  8. Joel Brueseke9:50 AM

    I'm very thankful to have parents who, for all intents and purposes, saw things this way when I was growing up, specifically during my teen years and early 20's. I never once heard a word of condemnation from them for the stupid, stupid things I did! :) And they also didn't run after me and try to knock sense into me. That most likely would've worked /against/ their desires to see me come out of the prodigal life. Instead, even though I didn't realize consciously at the time, I look back and I see that I always knew that they were 'for' me and never against me. That made all the difference in my life.

  9. Jack Cook6:57 AM

    Take the bow Ralph, take the bow! The Spirit do good in you.