25 Nov

A stop for pig slop

Do you know someone who has blown it? They had the tiger by the tail and then let it loose? Everything was going their way. They had the right pedigree, the right circumstances, the right career, the right touch and the right size bank account and then, like an idiot, they blew it! What a waste. They made a stop for pig slop.

What if they hit bottom, had an awakening or came to their senses, but were flat busted, broke and shattered? What if they wanted to come back? Start over, reset or begin again? Would you take a chance on a comeback? What would be required?

There is a family in scripture that lived to tell of such a tale. The wild child hit the road to find himself and ended up finding himself knee deep in pig slop.

Wallowing with the pigs he came to realize he wasn’t quite as clever, industrious and creative as he thought he was. He had failed and failed big time. Rather than eat leftovers fit for hogs, he swallowed an oversized piece of humble pie and headed for home. He expressed his sincere regret and with real remorse for his wrongdoing, set out to make things right.

The reaction to his awakening was met with mixed reviews. His dad saw him coming from afar, ran out to welcome him home, set him up with new digs and called for a celebration.

Why did the father notice his son coming from such a distance? I can’t help but believe he lived with great expectations. He had been praying God would grant his son wisdom. The dad waited and watched anticipating the answer to his prayers. What parent, of a wayward child, can’t relate?

His older brother wasn’t quite so fast to celebrate the recovery. After all, if the call for seconds was going to come, it sure wasn’t going to be at his expense! His wayward brother had emptied his own wallet full of inheritance money. There was no way he was going to let his pocket get picked by such an idiot.

Who could blame the older brother? We all know people that enable bad behavior. Parents who continue to clean up their kids messes long after they have been able-bodied adults. Some people never grow up and certain parents help keep it that way.

But then there are parents that recognize when the light bulb comes on in their kid’s head. They truly have turned from their wandering ways and have made the turn toward a life worth living.

Such was the case with the father of the wayward son. He had no choice but to celebrate recovery. His son was lost but now was found. He was heading the wrong direction and made the course correction. He was dead, in so many ways, and had now come back to life. What’s not to celebrate?

Yesterday was yesterday. Tomorrow may never come. Today is today and today is a day for celebration. Everything is right in the world and it is time to party!

We all know a wayward soul. Perhaps it is us. Someone who has fallen of the wagon, derailed the train or took a trip to nowhere fast.

Some may never make their way back home. It is often a choice of their own that leaves them adrift in outer space. Put when they do come to their senses, have a breakthrough or a great awakening, love is to be our only response and responsibility.

Why? Because in reality, we are all wayward kids and need to find our way back home to a loving God who runs to us with open arms, welcomes us home and throws us a party in celebration of our recovery! If only we will make the turn towards home.

Are you the wayward child? Maybe today is your wake-up call. Perhaps it is time to swallow a piece of humble pie, express sincere regret and real remorse for all the wrongdoing you have stirred up.  Today is the day to set out to make things right.

Are you the resentful sibling? Are you rolling your eyes in disbelief at the continued compassion and the never-ending extension of mercy and forgiveness? If so, reel in your index finger. Quit pointing at the perpetrator and start looking in the mirror. It is there that you will begin to discover what it means to desire mercy, grace and unconditional love.

Are you the enabling parent who constantly rushes in to clean up the mess? Do you keep you helicopter on the helipad ready for takeoff and rescue? Stop pretending you are the savior! Sometimes people have to fall down in order to grow up. Helping can hurt. Tough love is sometimes required in order to reach maturity. Quit stunting your kid’s growth!

If you are the parent that calls out to God on behalf of your kids, if you have cried yourself to sleep in anguish out of concern for your child and if you can’t help but anticipate, desire and expect better days, hang in there. I think I see a tired, worn out, remorseful kid on the horizon. He smells of pig slop and has humble pie on his breath, but it might be time to fire up the grill and start celebrating recovery!

(Inspired by Luke 15:11)

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23 Nov

FIG-ure it out!

As the story goes, a man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed.

Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’

“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.'”

Can you relate to the owner of the fig tree? Is there something or someone in your life that just doesn’t measure up to your expectations?

You’ve waited, watered and wondered if true potential would ever be met. With no signs of progress your disappointment grows with no signs of fruit!

It’s time to cut your losses, abandon ship or get out of Dodge! It’s over! Burn it down!

Maybe you are like the gardener. You can’t deny the facts. The evidence is in and the test result aren’t favorable. But somehow for some reason you see a glimmer of hope.

With just a little more time and a little more love the fledgling fig might just start to bud. You offer a second chance, a foul ball instead of a strike and you offer to take it from here. If all else fails, you too will sharpen your axe.

But then again maybe you can relate most to the fig tree! People have invested in you, cared for you, sacrificed for you, encouraged you, looked the other way, extended mercy, offered grace and somehow loved you anyway.

Seeing where your choices and lack of gumption have gotten you in life, like the fig tree, you decide to grow up!

Or else! Or else, you might be cut off, cut out or worst of all, cut down!

Maybe today is your wake up call. The owner has had enough, the gardener has offered a second chance with limits and now the future, or the lack there of, is in your hands.

The choice is yours to make. Either way, time is running out. It’s time to sprout and FIG-ure it out!

(Inspired by Luke 13:6:9)