Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Principles of Recovery Part 4

This is a continuation of lessons on  how to recover from social and economical loss and keep your faith in Christ intact.  This book is based upon scriptural stories and parables of recovery, so that the people of God may know the principles of recovery and understand how to recover from the social and economic loss they may have experienced in their lives. 

In the last lesson on the road to recovery we discussed Repentance.  We learned that Repentance is a tool in the Christian's tool box that when used properly with Forgiveness allows a believer to do many things to the Glory of God.  We also learned that repentance is ineffective with out a plan of action.    A believer in God can repent all he likes, until he acts on it properly, that kind of repenting is making an empty promise. This time we will discuss the fourth step in recovery: Return.

Return defined: (verb) To go or come back, as to a former place, position, or state:to return from abroad; to return to public office; to return to work.

The prodigal son in Luke 15 had made the choice to repent and to return to his father's house.  He changed his mind about his present  pig pen condition, changed his purpose of living and changed his direction.  All that would have been  brought to nothing if he did not do one thing: Act on those decisions.  He chose to return to his Father's house and off he went, without notification to his employer.  I can only imagine that  he humbly went back through the towns, possibly repenting to those who he mistreated when he first came through with the wealth of his inheritance.  He could have stopped in any of those towns and tried to carve out a living for himself, but nothing would have brought him to the level of living he would have if he fully returned to the fathers house.  What kept him going?  He had a vision of how it was when he worked for his father,  yea it was work, but he had a roof over his head, plenty of food to eat and decent clothes to wear.  He also slept comfortably every night.  All his needs were met when he lived in his father's house.  Now on his way back, he sleeps in back alleys, in crates of wood on beds of hay and sometimes on the bare muddy road.  Each day he gets up, focuses upon his purpose and continues upon his journey with that vision of how much better it will be when he gets to his father's house.

Likewise, we believers must maintain our focus when going through a hard time in our lives.  We must have a vision of what it would be like to live better than what we have allowed to accept or had to endure.  When I was a real estate sales person, the company that I represented as an agent to the prospective home sellers trained me to have a vision of what I wanted to be in five years.  What they suggested was to have a picture of what I wanted posted somewhere I could see it every morning.   What that did was help me focus on why I am getting up to prospect for new customers each day.  The prodigal son had that kind of focus.  He was able to focus because he had a vision.  Well that year I listed many properties and sold half of them.  It was my most successful year as an real estate agent.  All because I had a vision and did whatever honest way it took to achieve it. When I lost that vision, when I lost that focus, that is when I failed as a real estate agent.  Lesson: keep your focus.  

When we believers fall into the pig pen of life, we have lost our vision because our vision was just a disillusion, an unrealistic vision of our lives.  For the prodigal did not have the vision of being in the pig pen when he ventured out from his father's house, he had visions of adventure and grandeur and he was confident that his inheritance could buy anything he wanted when he first left his father's house.  His vision was, impractical, irresponsible and not measurable.  All good visions are practical, responsible and measurable. If you can not measure your vision most likely you can not achieve it.  If your vision is not useful or practical, it will be useless to others as well as yourself.  If your vision does not regard the respect due to others lives and liberties your vision  will cause rejection and a lot of damage.  All of the prodigal son's visions of grandeur and adventure died in that pig pen.  He soon adopted a new vision and new focus and a new determination. Up he went, determined to go back to his father's house with a new vision for his life, so also we believers must get a new focus, and new vision and return to the father's house. It is truly said, "You will not know how good you had a thing until it is gone." The prodigal did not realize how good he really had it back in his father's house until he ended up in the pig pen.  Many believers really do not know how good they had it when they had an opportunity to do the work of the Lord, until their in a situation where they can not do the things they desire to do for God.  

We could also speculate that the prodigal son realized that he had made some bad choices.  For he could have sat there in the pig pen, blaming people for his pig pen situation.  He did not, he realized that he could still have a better life, all he had to do is repent to his father and humbly offer himself up as a servant.  I just recently read a joke that shows what kind of person is that makes promises  to God that he won't keep.  There was a man who was in a rush to get to a place where he had some important business to attend to,  when he pulled into the parking lot of the building he had a noticed that all the parking places were taken up.  The man quickly said, "Oh God if you would provide me with a parking spot in this lot, I will go to church and attend Sunday school and prayer meeting..".  Miraculously  a parking  spot became available, the man then said,"Never mind, I found one."  I failed to find the humor of that Joke, but it made me think of what people tend to do with God when they find themselves in a bind.   They make deals with God that they never intend to keep. They make promises to God that they do not intend of following through as long as God gives them what they want or worse yet they believe that the opportunity or blessing was not generated by God.  The prodigal did not make any deals with God,  he repented and returned.  He understood that he was not in a position to negotiate a deal with God or with his father.  He accepted the responsibility of his actions and humbly returned.   

Here is the part I like the most about the prodigal Son.  He had a plan to make restitution for his actions.  For in confessing his sin against his father and to God he also offered to work as a servant in his father's house.  In the prodigals mind, he took his father's wealth and was irresponsible with it.  Wealth that he could not replenish, except by working for it.  This shows that the prodigal still had honor for his father.  How many times have we each made promises to God that we will serve him, if He would do this for us or if he would do that for us? How many times have we taken for granted the wealth that God, the father has bestowed upon each one of us and have wasted it upon our own ambitions? How many times we have believed that God will pull us out of our pig pens, when in fact it is really up to us to leave? Plenty of times.  I thank God, that he is a loving and patient God and just as the prodigals father was waiting for his son's return, God is waiting for each one of us to return.

So what did we learn today?  We learned that repentance is meaningless unless it is followed through upon.  That along with repentance there must be a plan of restitution and corresponding action.   More important than that is the fact that God in his love and compassion for each one of us is awaiting for us to shed our disillusions of grandeur and take the responsibility of our bad choices and return to him. For if we do, there awaits for us the blessing of God, the Father upon those of use who choice to leave the pig pen of life and return to serve Him.