I’m always returning to the Lord. Always. It seems like every time I open my Bible and my journal, I’m starting out with my tail between my legs, like that text you send to that acquaintance who is faithful to reach out every few weeks and remind you of the dinner you’ve promised them over and over you’ll have — “Hey, yeah, I’m so sorry…” My journal pages, whether they’re a day or a month apart, start the same way: Please forgive me for walking away. Again.
I recently wrote in frustration, “Am I destined to always be the Prodigal? Will I ever just stay?” Why aren’t I so captivated by the love of the Father that all else fades away? Why do I choose 20 more minutes of sleep/Netflix/Instagram-scrolling over opening the Word? Why am I always returning? I should have it together by now.
These feelings of shame and guilt hold no bearing on who God is but tell me something very real about what I think of Him. I’m under the impression that God thinks I should have it together by now.
That more than a decade of knowing Him should have done all it’s work and I should be just enjoying the ride.
That He’s rolling His eyes when I slink back to Him after finding once again that the golden things in my life are folly.
That maybe, just maybe, this time really will be the last time and He’ll just throw up His hands in frustration tomorrow.
How human I am. The easiest thing, I believe for Christians to do when it comes to God is to make Him in our image; rather than a distinction between Creator and created, I assume simply God is just more of me. What a terrible God this would be. The lesson I’m trying to teach myself is discipline, how to show up more and do better — be better. Shame is a terrible motivator and should be indicative to me that I’m paying attention to the wrong thing.
A brief lesson is learned here: I can discern a season incorrectly. Instant humility.
From here I can ask God, “What are you trying to teach me?” instead of showing up with my guard up and my assumptions ready: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know you’re mad.” I’m wrong; He’s not mad. He’s present before I even show up and I’m learning to take my focus off of my perceived failure to love Him enough and instead shifting to His overwhelming success to love me beyond what I could ever offer. He is not like me. He will immutably be there, with mercies for yes, my lukewarm behavior, but also for my wrongful accusations of myself.
This, however, is the lesson I’m learning (thanks to the well-timed words of Jen Wilkin in her book, None Like Him): Because I can be certain that God is unchanging, I can be certain that I must change. This is big news!! This is a guarantee that any behavior, any season, any “still??” question I keep bringing to mind has the capacity to change. It must, because I am a changing creature, unlike my Creator. My being and my life are constantly in flux, and as a believer in Christ, I aim to evolve towards the character of Christ (steadfast and faithful).
The Lord has responded to my question, “ Am I destined to be the Prodigal?” quite plainly through the demonstration of His own character: No. I am changing you. Give up on your own timeline of how long that change will take. Eternity provides the Lord a vast amount of days and seasons to shape His children, and if this time of feeling frustrated with myself only leads to understanding more readily the grace provided me in my frustration, then so be it.