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The way home

There came a moment in the life of the Prodigal son when Jesus said “He came to himself” What a long time it had taken, and what terrible experiences of rejection and loneliness, mental & emotional anguish, as well as the suffering of hunger pangs and material need. How different life would have been had he stayed at home. To add to his sense of despair was the knowledge that he had no one to blame but himself, and all of these plagues upon him were the natural outcome and inevitable consequence of his own pride, arrogance, self centeredness and stupidity.

Now at last it was as if sanity was being restored, it would be a humbling experience but would make more sense to go home than to die in such tragic circumstances in a foreign land.

What sort of questions went through his mind? Could he find the way? Would he be welcome?

“I’ve wandered far away from God.
Now I’m coming home
The paths of sin too long I’ve trod
Lord I’m coming home.

I’ve wasted many precious years
Now I’m coming home
I now repent with bitter tears
Lord I’m coming home.

I’m tired of sin and straying Lord
Now I’m coming home
I’ll trust Thy love, believe Thy Word
Lord I’m coming home.

There is, thank God, a way home.

Before we actually commence our journey of restoration we have to be brought to our senses and see that what we had was a thousand times better than what we have.  Under the ministry of the Holy Spirit we find ourselves with a renewed desire for the things of God and what we left behind. We regret what we have done.

As the Holy Spirit quickens our desire for the things of God, He revives our faith in the character of God.This may well be a gradual process that we are almost unaware of, but which those who have been praying for us seize upon as signs that God is at work within us.

We not only believe that God is, but that He also is the one who ‘rewards those who diligently seek Him” Slowly perhaps, but surely, we come to understand that our Father will not turn us away.

This quickened desire and faith is the work of The Holy Spirit but it is the beginning not the completion of our restoration. We have to respond to the Spirit, give evidence of this revived faith, get up from where we sit and do something.

It doesn’t matter if we’ve been in a spiritual coma for a short period or many years, the visible sign of recovery is activity.

The first signs of a person recovering from a physical coma may be small and faltering; the patient may for example need help as they try to feed themselves.

The returning Prodigal has to begin the journey home and the name of the road he must tread is ‘Repentance’. He will need to rely upon the Holy Spirit for strength as this will be no easy road.

Repentance begins with a personal acknowledgement of your wrong doing, followed by confession, and doing those things which show your change of heart and direction.

First and foremost your sin of unbelief or act of defiant disobedience was against God. To enjoy a restored relationship with Him you will first of all need to confess it to Him. The apostle John makes it abundantly clear that “if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Sadly I believe the Church is in some ways trying to be over familiar with God and takes sin too lightly by adopting the attitude of arrogantly asserting that we don’t need to agonise over sin just claim our right to forgiveness.

The truly repentant Prodigal is not arrogant, but is ashamed of what he has done and humbly casts himself on his father’s mercy with the words “I don’t deserve to be called your son”.

There is, I believe another important aspect to Repentance, and it involves restitution, or where possible putting right your wrongs. Clearly there is nothing you can do to put yourself right with God; your acceptance with Him is purely a matter of His mercy and grace but where your sin involved others it is essential that you show by your actions that you are indeed repentant.

Personally I found it extremely difficult to meet with the wife I deserted and the friend whose wife I stole, but I had to humble myself to apologise for all the wrong, pain and hurt I had caused them.

There were many others I had hurt, my children, church members and friends, all of whom had to be apologised to. There wasn’t much I could actually put right, what was done was done and couldn’t be unravelled. However, if God was graciously restoring me to Himself I had to be restored to the fellowship of His people; that meant I needed to go to them and seek their forgiveness and reconciliation, something impossible to do without the humbling admission of guilt. It would require courage.

 “Courage has no armies and no banners. Courage has no drums,
but softly, as the heart asks God for it, courage always comes.”

You do not know what reaction you will meet, but it could range from hostility to forgiveness.

I want to assure you that although returning home is not an easy path to tread, it is a blessed one and the joy of restored fellowship with God and His people is something to delight in and to cherish.

So, by the grace of God you are home! Will it all be plain sailing from here? No!

You will inevitably be faced with attacks from the enemy of souls who having thought you were in his grip will do his utmost through criticism, temptation and discouragement to bring you again into bondage.

You will find also that whilst God in His Infinite mercy has forgiven and restored you, there may well be consequences of your actions that cannot be changed and you will have to learn to live with them.

If you have been away from the fellowship of the people of God for a long time, you may well find changes in music and culture as well as in doctrinal emphasis. It will require much heart searching as you seek the mind of God as to where you stand on such issues.

I do not want to discourage you; the devil will try hard enough to do that! But I do not want to deceive you into thinking that following Christ is any different from when He said “If any man would be my disciple, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me”.

Today we are still promised “As thy days are so shall thy strength be”

Reflect upon Isaiah 41:10 where you will find all you need in the 2 “I Am,’s” and the 3 “I Will’s” of God

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.”

            Annie Johnson Flint