Tales from the Great Adventure

a journal of living-like-we-mean-it, by Derek Maul

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“Then he came to his senses…  And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him.” (The Prodigal Son – Luke 15)

“What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off?” (The Lost Sheep – Matthew 18)

When I come into my study to write, I almost never sit down at the keyboard and start typing. I’ll make sure my desk is at least partially clear; I’ll turn my computer on; I’ll open up a blank document; I’ll sit in the leather easy chair and read; sometimes, as you can see from the image above, I begin the process in another location. Always, I’ll spend a few minutes talking things over with God; but – regardless – it’s often quite some time before I actually begin to write.

Fact is, writing involves a lot more time engaged in things that are not writing than in the actual production of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. But it’s still writing all the same.

Fact is, writing involves a lot more time engaged in things that are not writing than in the actual production of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. But it’s still writing all the same.

This morning, for example, I’m wrestling with a lot of ideas that may or may not go anywhere. Ideas; struggles; questions; requests. Yes, even requests. Sometimes people ask me to address certain issues; or – and I think this is a better observation – to struggle along with them.

I’ve said before that I’m not in the answers business. I can help people to frame better questions; I can point in the direction where God has consistently helped me to understand more clearly; and I can share how my own spirit and mind have been comforted and encouraged. But we’re all absolutely unique in terms of how, and where, and to what extent God leads us into light.

The Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son:

This uniqueness thing is worth exploring, and I have a simple story that has helped me in this regard. Sunday mornings I have been reading Matthew’s Gospel with my discipleship class. We were talking about a story Jesus tells, featuring a lost sheep. The shepherd leaves his other ninety-nine sheep, goes out, and searches everywhere until he finally finds the missing animal, who had probably nibbled himself lost and got stuck in some impossible situation.

“That’s what God does,” one of my class members said. “When we’re lost, God searches everywhere until we’re found, then God brings us home.”

“Not so fast,” I said; “over in Luke’s Gospel Jesus share the story of the Prodigal Son. In that story the father never leaves his front porch. The father waited for his son to figure out he was lost and then make his own way back.”

That’s when Dan chimed in. “God always reaches out when we’re lost,” he said; “but that’s going to look different for each one of us, according to what we need.”

He was right. Some of us may need to start the long walk back home before we’re ready to receive God’s love. Others may need someone to crawl into the hole they’re occupying, cry with them a while, and literally leverage them out with some kind of a crowbar. Some simply need a warm invitation from a work colleague to, “join me at church;” while their neighbor may never darken the doors until a friend dies and they show up for a funeral, only to meet Jesus when they least expected it.

We’re all absolutely unique in terms of how, and where, and to what extent God leads us into light.

God meets us at the exact point of our need:

Sharing the Good News is never a “one-size fits all” proposition. God knows us – intimately – and (as Rebekah pointed out in Sunday’s message) God loves us anyway; God loves us in the way we need to experience his love.

img_7751Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!” (The Woman at the Well – John 4)

For example, I have a number of friends who went through dark experiences in war, and they met God in a deeply personal way exactly because of the horrors they encountered. Then I know others who had the same experiences, and say that is how and why they lost their faith.

People become lost, but no two of us are the same. So I don’t know if the Father is on the front porch this time, waiting for them to come home? Or is the Good Shepherd going to leave the other ninety-nine, hit the lost sheep over the head with his crook, and drag them back to the fold? Or is our Creator simply going to let his love rain down, through the witness of family and friends, until the truth of it finally soaks in?

Or is our Creator simply going to let his love rain down, through the witness of family and friends, until the truth of it finally soaks in?

img_7529I don’t know. But I do know that my friend Dan is right; God always reaches out when we’re lost. But that’s going to be different every time, and according to every need.

Like I said, sometimes I don’t start writing until I know the direction I’m going to take… and other times I simply write, and the direction takes care of itself.

Peace, and more peace; love, the Jesus kind; and hope – so much of it – wrapped up in promise – DEREK

 

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