Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18, 2009

" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." Luke 15:31

The Amazon River is the largest river in the world. The mouth is 90 miles across. There is enough water to exceed the combined flow of the Yangtze (yan' s ), Mississippi, and Nile Rivers. So much water comes from the Amazon that they can detect its currents 200 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. One irony of ancient navigation is that sailors in times past died for lack of water ... caught in windless sections of the South Atlantic. They were adrift, helpless, dying of thirst. Sometimes other ships from South America who knew the area would come alongside and call out, "What is your problem?" And they would exclaim, "Can you spare us some water? Our sailors are dying of thirst!" And from the other ship would come the cry, "Just lower you buckets. You are in the mouth of the mighty Amazon River."
What a shame that sailors would die of thirst while surrounded by water. But that is the plight of many in our world today. People are dying for love while surrounded by the boundless grace of God. How tragic!
I see that truth illustrated in the story Jesus told about the man with two sons in Luke 15. They were surrounded by the lavish love of a gracious father, and yet were dying inside. How does that happen? Why does it happen? It may be helpful to examine that.
In my last post I dealt with how the religious leaders of Israel could be so zealous for religion but so devoid of love. They were witnesses to three years of Jesus' teaching, ministry and miracles. That is long enough to see the effects of His life-transforming love, but with a few exceptions, they were left wanting. They were caught in the pride trap, believing that they were good enough for God.
As hard as that is to comprehend, how could you spend your entire life with this fabulous father and not receive the full benefits of his love? That deserves some examination.
Let's take the younger son first.
I believe that he missed the love of his father because he was overcome with self-indulgence. He bought into the notion that happiness and satisfaction are "out there somewhere". He was caught in the pleasure trap. It didn't take him long to discover how wrong he was. Even though it was a high-priced lesson, so lessons are worth it. Since this one had a happy ending, it WAS worth it.
What this young man foolishly thought would bring him freedom, took him into bondage. What he mistakenly believed would bring satisfaction delivered destituttion and desparation.
Only after he was purged from the pleasure trap was he able to recognize and receive the love of his father. And, when he received the love of his father he got all the other stuff he have been looking for. Instead of getting pleasure he got joy!
Why does this matter? Because all of us have some "younger son" in us. At some time in our life we have bought into the pleasure trap. We have chased possessions and passions so hard that we didn't have time or energy for anything else. After coming up empty, we were suddenly open for the "God option".
If you are not living in the lavish love of the Father, could it be that you are still caught in the pleasure trap? Have you believed the notion that your happiness is "out there" somewhere? That may worth some prayerful examination this morning.