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I'll Never Go Back
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I love life stories.
I love to hear how people overcome adversity or conquered their enemies.
I always wonder what happened to them the next week, month or few months.
Did the victory endure? Did the enemies come back? Did life continue to lift and soar for them? Did they slip back into the damaging circumstances that started their story?
Take the Prodigal Son story from the Bible. The young man had a death wish for his father. The son could not wait around for his dad to die, so he demanded his one third of the estate now. “I want to enjoy life while I’m young. I don’t want to be old like you and can’t experience the excitement of living.”
Dad wisely decided to give his son the freedom he desired. Perhaps Dad had grown weary of the constant badgering from his rebellious kid. Nothing Dad tried worked to bring wisdom to this skull full of mush.
With the credit card in hand, cash in the bank, the son did not even say thanks or look back. He did not stop until he reached the far away land where no one had heard of his Dad.
For those few short years he lived. He lived extravangtly. He lived as he wished, no hedonistic desire denied. His high life friends gathered to spend his money. Yacht parties lasted for weeks. Condos hosted the sexiest and youngest that money could buy. Gold necklaces and rings graced the son’s neck and wrists. His showered his rotating lovers with diamonds and rubies.
Then came the day the credit card was denied. A hurried deal covered his life for about six more months, until he had pawned all of his valuables. Friends drifted away. His lovers quit loving when no gifts graced their youthful bodies. Restaurants began to refuse him service. The yacht was repossessed. The condo lease ran out.
For a few weeks his friends put him up, hoping that more money would be coming. But reality shocked even his friends as they discovered the son had spent it all, really spent it all.
Walking the streets, living on handouts, the son begged for work and food. As life happens, a famine in the land compounded his misery and loss, everyone was short. There was no extra. Agreeing to work at the lowest menial job, the son grubbed out pig sties. Sneaking a handful of pig slop when no one was looking kept the young, now old son barely alive.
When the son could not wash off the stink of pig from his body, when the foremen caught onto his theft of pig slop, the son repented and returned home.
Repentance: turning over a new leaf, starting a new life, turning your life around 180 degrees.
Forgiveness: the absolute payment by someone else for your debts.
Dad let the son return home. He was a son again. Regular meals, meaningful work, love from Dad brought healing to the son.
What happened when the famine was over in that far away land? What happened when a year passed and the son felt whole and alive again? Did his thoughts wander to the last four girls he bedded? Did he long for the night life of alcohol and drugs, the best foods to eat and people catering to your every whim? Did he receive letters from his friends wondering when he would return?
Did the son slip off for a few days and then return home? After all Dad would forgive and restore again, maybe again and again.
My close friend ruined his young life through alcohol and serious drug use. He rode his Harley through life, working hard enough to fund the drugs and whores. Eventually starting a family, he still ran the fast life of a biker. While escaping arrest and convictions, life balanced his excess with physical pain, divorce and a loss of employment.
After he told me his story, I wondered, “Would you ever be tempted to use heroin again?”
“NO! I’ll never go back to that hell!”
He had reached the absolute bottom of his life. He is now remarried, with children and a small business. Life is not easy, but miles better that living in that far away land.
Did our Prodigal Son reach his bottom so that he meant his repentance? “I’ll never go back to that hell!”
We think, “Hell? Sounded pretty nice to me. I’d eat pig slop if I could live like that for a few years.”
We, who have never reached our absolute bottom of personal earthly hell, do not understand repentance. We whose sins are smaller, less dramatic and costly, repent because our DAD offered love, forever and an unbelievable inheritance. The SON paid the debt we incurred from our sinful life: Hell has been cancelled for us.
Do we sometimes wander away for a few days, walking toward that far away land, hoping for a little earthly excitement? Do we sneak out at night for a late night date with debauchery and sinful freedom? Do we hide our letters from old life friends under our bed to sneak out and read, making plans to escape DAD’s notice?
Repentance: turning your life around 180 degrees and burning the bridge to go back.
Repentance: realizing that DAD sent HIS SON to die for you. Really Die. Die in a nasty, painful, blood soaked way.
Repentance: Realizing that DAD’s SON went through your eternal hell! Painful and dark, but HE shattered the gates of hell, releasing all those who would repent.
Repentance: Walking with the SON, understanding the pain HE went through for you. “I will never forget the Hell HE went through for me!
“I’ll never return to that path to hell!”
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