If you have been following my blog, then you will know that when we read The Return of the Prodigal Son a few months ago it spoke to me very deeply. I absolutely loved the book, and it stirred up a lot of things in my heart. At the time I read the book, I was very overwhelmed. There was so much in it that I related to that I didn’t know how to fully process it. We read through the book pretty quickly, and we soon began another book. So as we stopped talking about the book as a community, I too put the book back on the shelf. I spent maybe a week thinking about everything it stirred up in my heart, and then not knowing what to do with all of that, I just let it go and moved onto the next book. I said I would go back to it later. I forgot about it for a while, and then around the beginning of December, I very strongly felt that I needed to go back to this book. Well I kept putting it off, and just this past week, I FINALLY decided to go back and read some of it.
The entire book spoke to me, but specifically, the section on the older son really spoke to me a lot. It talks about the anger and bitterness of the older son who never leaves home. Even though he never physically leaves home, He is very distant from the Father in His heart. In the many moments in my life where I have felt like the older son, I failed to recognize how God was always right there, trying to show me how much He has to offer me. When I reread the section, I was surprised at how different it was reading it for the second time. Although I still very much understand the position of the older son and relate to it from previous experiences in my life, I realized how far that is from where I am now. Reading it the first time and really relating to the older son, I felt the bitterness and anger stir up. This time, I understood and still related, but I didn’t experience the emotion. As I reflected on this, I realized how much God has been working on my heart. Three months ago, I knew that I needed healing, but the emotion was still very strong and raw. By not thinking about how I needed healing, I realized that God had been working on me in ways I didn’t even know. It was almost as if He was able to transform my heart more by me not worrying or thinking about it. As I was reflecting on the ways that God was healing me, I read the following passage from the book, which completely confirmed my thoughts:
Jesus’ words to Nicodemus: “Do not be surprised when I say: ‘You must be born from above.’” Indeed, something has to happen that I myself cannot cause to happen. I cannot be reborn from below, that is, with my own strength, with my own mind, with my own psychological insights. There is no doubt in my mind about this because I have tried so hard in the past to heal myself from complaints and failed…and failed…and failed, until I came to the edge of complete emotional collapse and even physical exhaustion. I can only be healed from above, from where God reaches down. What is impossible for me is possible for God. “With God, everything is possible.”
After reading the book a few months ago, I knew a lot needed to change. I was overwhelmed and had no idea how to do that, so I just let it go. I didn’t consciously give it up and surrender it to God. As I said before, I just sort of forgot about it. But what I realized in rereading the section on the older son was that I couldn’t transform my heart on my own. Only God could do that. And He did, without me even realizing it. I also realized that there is still a lot more transformation to take place, but there is a large difference in my attitude about this. The first time I was so overwhelmed that so much needed to change that I felt like I had to wipe away everything I knew of myself and completely start over to discover who God was calling me to be as His daughter. I now realize that this is completely untrue. He is using everything from my life as a foundation to build upon, to continuously grow stronger in who I am as His daughter. A few months ago, I wasn’t able to realize this. He graced me by, unbeknownst to me, working on my heart in the last few months. Because of that, I am now able to look at the ways I relate to the older son and not freak out. Instead, I can understand how I relate to this, and with a much more positive attitude, I can face it. God worked on me a lot, but I know there is still a lot more. It’s almost like I can now see this, and I can give God permission to allow me to “be born from above.” I firmly believe that with this conscious surrender, God is going to rock my world in ways that I cannot even imagine.