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.


  1. Praise God that our salvation doesn't depend on us. It's 100% dependent on God.


  2. "Did he attend church regularly?" This really is a flawed question, and yet so often Christians use it as a measurement of someone's spiritual condition. It may be a reflection, but there are many regular church-goers who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Praise God that He does not base our salvation on good attendance or on any other WORK that we may do!

  3. My sister, always a "good" daughter talks openly about how her actions have always been squeaky clean, but she had a rebellious heart. If she read your blog, she'd shout a loud "AMEN" to the fact that we're all prodigals no matter the actions!
    Be blessed, sister...

  4. Wow.
    Great post, Janelle. And yes, a great testimony. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hi Janelle!
    Your post is such a wonderful reminder of God's grace toward us. His love and grace are so deep and wide and high!

    And what great reminders through this post and your Gosselin post that we need to refrain from judging others. But by God's grace, there go we.

    Blessings to you!!

  6. Oh, wow, what a great post, Janelle.

    You are so right. There is a prodigal inside all of us -- even if the "outside of the dish" looks pristine.

    My prodigal heart still wanders, and He still takes me back, time and time again.

  7. Grace - it's all about God's perfect grace - so glad it's not about us!

  8. Isn't it awesome that we don't have to be "good enough" and "go to church enough", but just be us and believe? I am not always "good enough", yet He loves me and is so glad to take me back.

  9. I always felt sorry for the good son in that story. I always thought he got the short end of the stick.

    But then I became a Christian, and I knew there was nothing in that good brother that reminded me of myself. I was the prodigal son. Whatever the good son felt didn't matter to me anymore. What mattered was that his Father welcomed him home.

    Just as He welcomed me.

    That was awesome, Janelle.

  10. That is the grand thing about God...he does not judge but forgives.