I am supporting a dear brother who has been in psychological and physical pain a number of years as a result of the consequences of sin (recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol, sex/porn/lust and control) and various trials. His family of origin could not have been more brutal. His father was ruthless and his older brother who was a highly regarded high school football lineman frequently physically beat him up without his mother once defending him. Often, they ridiculed him with emasculating comments. All that remains of his family today are two middle school kids. And, his ex-wife is fighting in court to keep him from being around them. The volume of hurtful past experiences in his life should have been for twenty people. As you can imagine, His self-talk is horrible and dark to the point of him personally determining whether life is worth living.
Two years ago, he walked away from a closed group in a large, local Bible based recovery ministry. If you have personally been in recovery you know a closed group is made up of folks who have become in some ways closer than siblings. They “walk” together as a community of support and candor to push each other along the trail to forgiveness, healing and wholeness. However, before he completed full recovery, he left these guys and went straight back into a life of sin and addiction with a vengeance. They had invested so much time, energy, prayer and heart in his recovery, yet, he had separated from them. This past Monday evening this dear brother had no idea what to expect when he walked back in the door of the same church two years later. Will anyone remember him? Will they be stand-offish? Will they be perfunctory cordial? What is going to happen when he goes through the doors again?
It did not take long for him to find out. One guy from his old closed group immediately saw and moved towards him across this large gathering hall throwing his arms around his neck. “Dude, we have missed you. The guys are going to go crazy having you back!” (crazy love?!) Just as this dear brother foretold, one by one each of his former “brothers” unabashedly loved him. It was an unbelievable experience for me to behold and simply rejoiced as these guys “ran” towards him and demonstrated their love sincerely, graciously, rejoicefully, boyishly, enthusiastically with very little restraint. They lavished my friend with the love of our heavenly Father.
The only way that I am able to explain this experience to others is to point them to the story of how the Father of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 lavished him with underserved, graceful, merciful love. Let’s look at the Luke 15 passage… after squandering all of his inheritance on wild living, he was totally destitute, bankrupt and decided to go back home. How will he be received? Will he be received? To his surprise “20 while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So, they began to celebrate.”
The very moment the father saw him, he ran to the prodigal son and lavished him with his love. Do you realize that he would do the same for you? Go back home and feel the warm embrace of the Father’s love. Revelations 3:20 exclaims, “20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me.” And, if a prodigal walks into the door of your home, church or meeting room, I pray that you will receive them as our Father has received us.