Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One Moment

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a 55-year old man who died from cancer. He and his wife, along with three of their four children, attend the same church as I do. I didn't know him as well as I know some of his kids but I knew enough about him to know that his life was not without struggles and hard times.

The service - a celebration of his life - was a testimony to the love, patience and persistence of God intermingled with the persistence and humility of the prodigal son. God never gave up on him even though, as the pastor said yesterday, there were times when he gave up on God and walked away from him.

I love the story of the Prodigal Son. Probably because I relate to it on so many levels. And it might also be the reason why I was so touched by the service yesterday.

Nobody tried to pretend like John's whole life was a perfect walk with God. It was a real testimony to the grace of God; and when it mattered, John surrendered his life to God.

Romans 14:11 says "It is written: " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' "

Last night, at a town picnic in the park, I had someone ask me if John had attended church regularly. I stopped scooping the fresh fruit on my plate and looked up at this woman. Was she really asking this question? Did it really matter if he went to church regularly? Or is it more important what was in his heart, or to whom he had given his heart?

This morning I was thinking about the story of the prodigal again; but this time, instead of the son who returned home, I thought about the son, the "good" son, that never left home. How he didn't understand why his father never threw him a celebration feast.

For a long time, I was jealous of the "good son" wishing that I could say that was my life. But the fact is, we are all prodigals; no matter how good we are and whether or not we have received a perfect attendance award for church.

And the truth is, I would much rather be the prodigal and know the depths (as much as my human mind can fathom) of God's love for me and the extent (again, as much as I can comprehend) of his grace extended to me.

Two of my favorite scriptures are Luke 23:43: Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

And Luke 15:7: "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

I am so happy for John and his testimony that brings God glory.