God is Waiting

by Rich Bregitzer
(St. Louis, MO)

Luke 15:11-20

Lk 15:11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.
Lk 15:12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
Lk 15:13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
Lk 15:14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
Lk 15:15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
Lk 15:16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
Lk 15:17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
Lk 15:18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
Lk 15:19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Lk 15:20 So he got up and went to his father. “But 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.

When I read today’s scripture it reminded me, among other things, of the many people we have on our prayer list. It also reminded me of those folks that might not be all that sick, but that are just down all the time.

And that happens to even the most faithful of Christians; we get ill, we get depressed, we have our Mondays; our bad days, our cloudy days and some of those days seem to last weeks, months or years.

Here is something to think about though; I want you to consider what sort of person you are when bad things happen. Take sickness again, just as an example, when you are sick what do you do?

See there are a lot of people in this church and others; faithful people and not so faithful people and they have been sick for a long, long time. Now there are generally three ways that people handle sickness:

1)The folks who fight it, on their own, with everything they have.
2)The people that choose to just accept it.
3)The people that pray and seek God for healing.

Now you might think that group 1 is just wasting their time if they aren’t seeking God, but at least they are trying to do something. They sort of remind me of the prodigal son in today’s scripture.

He, too, was trying to do something in his own strength. He was living the good life and being the captain of his own destiny. Now keep in mind that he was able to maintain this lifestyle because his father had given him his inheritance early.

A lot of us are just like that. Once upon a time we were under the care of God and for a while we were doing really good because we were still covered by God’s good graces, but the more we try things on our own, leaving God out of the equation, the more we find ourselves in dire straits.

Of those three types of people I mentioned the second group was comprised of people that just accept their situation. This group can be divided into two sub-categories; one being those that are miserable and the other being those that wear their sickness or difficulties with pride. Have you ever met such a person?

They are the ones bragging about their infirmities; proudly showing off what they endure. If it is a cry for attention or concern that is one thing, but often these folks have completely taken ownership of their illness as if it is a long lost love. They don’t receive healing because they cannot relinquish ownership.

It’s a twisted, perverse relationship when they refer to their ailments as “My cancer” or “I am diabetic”; when the correct perspective is that they suffer from cancer or diabetes and not that they are these things or owners of these things.

It makes me crazy when someone defines themselves as an illness. These people were first and foremost God’s. They are what they are and not what some virus or disease would have them think they are. Because they can’t realize that, they wallow in unhealthiness never even looking for a way to be healthy.

And perhaps health will never be theirs, but they don’t even bother trying to figure out if it might. There are no prayers to God for deliverance; there is no seeking of the Father.

The young, prodigal son was the same way. When he had depleted the funds he had inherited and when he had used up the blessings of his father he found himself in need. Do you know what he needed? He needed more blessings from the hand of his father. Folks that find themselves depressed and longing for better days need the same thing; as do the people stagnating in sickness…they need to do something about the situation.

The young man didn’t realize this though. He wallowed…oh he longed for some food, but longing and doing are two different things. He was in bad shape. The verse says nobody brought him anything.

There’s another thing. If we are down, sick or just feeling like were at the end of our rope or at the bottom of the barrel we shouldn’t just stay in that situation waiting for someone to bail us out; we have to take the initiative and the responsibility for ourselves…and we have to want to help ourselves.

We have to not want the disease, but to want God’s healing. We have to not want to be depressed or stressed, but to be blessed.

Let me stop right now and tell you a secret: Rich gets really moody. Don’t believe me? Ask Pam…shoot ask Paula. Some of you may have even been on the receiving end of my moodiness. I do apologize. It is extremely easy for me to get to that point, but I do know how to get out of it.

I pray. I ask God to deliver me from that attitude. I read the Bible. I fellowship with positive people. I turn off America’s Most Wanted and I turn on America’s Funniest Home Videos….I stop listening to break up songs and start dancing to Miley Cyrus with Pam. And if that doesn’t work I pray more.

I know I’m not alone. We all need a pick me up from time to time. The Sons of Korah were no different; these were some of King David’s best song leaders. Look at this Psalm:

Ps 42:4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.

Ps 42:5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and
Ps 42:6 my God.

I can relate. I can be right here before you all and leave here feeling beat up or as the scripture says: downcast. Oh, it doesn’t happen often and it’s nobody’s fault; it’s just something that can happen; maybe a lack of vitamins…I don’t know, but I do know what the Sons of Korah knew…that if I want out of that funk then I need to seek God.

Just like we need to seek our Heavenly Father the prodigal son came to realize that he needed to seek his earthly father.

There he was owning his situation; he may have said “This is my lot in life” or “This is my situation”. It looked grim indeed; hanging out with pigs, starving, no money, no future, no hope…but the prodigal realized that something needed to change and he realized the blessings he had had before and that is when the scripture tells us “he came to his senses”.

Hey, no matter what you are going through. If you haven’t sought out God yet are you ready to come to your senses? Are you ready to do something about the situation?

Sometimes we can be so much like this prodigal son. We realize we need to get on with living right; that we need a change in how we’ve been living, but we have a tendency to think it’ll be a long hard road.

I hope you remember that when you hear the story of the prodigal son you are hearing a story told by Jesus, who is in fact a son also. And the parable he is telling us is one that shows us the love of not just this stories father, but of our Heavenly Father.

See, when the prodigal has that change of heart, when he decides to do something about it he thinks he needs to grovel at his father’s feet….he thinks he needs to be made into one of the hired men; that he is no longer worthy to be considered a son.

But look at the last verse:
Lk 15:20 So he got up and went to his father. “But 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.

See, just like the prodigal’s father God will welcome us back with open arms. He is waiting to for you to want the blessings that he freely pours out. He is just waiting for you to step out of that situation that is no good for you.

He’s waiting for you to pray, to seek him and to stop wallowing in misery; to stop wearing it like a badge…he’s waiting for you to change your mind and to turn your heart back towards him…

And when you do, even when you are still a long way off from that place you left in the first place; God will run to you and encircle you with love…

One of the many messages of this parable is that God is there for the downcast and the downtrodden and he longs for us to turn to him in those moments.

Now you might not think of this as a Thanksgiving message, but I’m here to tell you that there is nothing to be more thankful for than to be able to turn to God when things have gone badly and to see the light at the end of the tunnel or the hope that awaits the faithful; meaning those people that have stepped out of those darkest valleys into that glorious light.


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