It was sunny, not perspiring hot – pleasant. There was no wind or trace of a breeze, the water had no ripples or waves as I pushed my kayak off from shore with my paddle. I back paddled out from the shore until the brown muddy bottom and the weeds disappeared from my view then I swung the nose out toward the center of the lake.
It was in May if I remember, a mid-week, middle of the day kind of spontaneous trip. I was on my own, me, the jeep, the kayak and the water. I sat out in the middle of the glossy lake and listened. I could hear the water gently lapping the sides of the kayak, the birds calling out their warnings of a stranger, but no other sounds save the noisy thoughts in my head.
I was irritated, and I needed a one on one with God and trust me there is no better place than out in nature to find Him. I proceeded to start paddling and circling the perimeter of the lake, my strokes gaining intensity as I launched into my unfair spiel, my list of what and how life was unfair, pointing them out one by one to God, I knew He needed reminding.
I marvel at His graciousness with us, to allow us to vent and blow off steam at Him, accusing Him of “unfair” even “uncaring”. When my kids sass me or accuse me, I do not usually sit back and let them, I want to throw in my reasons, my justifications, I want them to know I am still the parent.
God let me vent and then there was quiet. I floated along in the silence, which was not uncomfortable, it was more of a gentle nudge as if to say, ‘is that all?” I felt peaceful after I had vented, the rot and poison that had settled in my soul had been spewed out and it was a relief. I was still looking for answers but now felt ready to hear them. I knew there had to be answers because it was not fair and God is fair, isn’t He?
I find the more we look for fair, the harder it is to find it. My mom had a saying that I have heard most of my life, “Life is not fair, get over it,” plain and simple, it took me a long time to figure out mom was right. Fair is elusive and as much as we think the world operates on “fair” it does not, and actually neither does God. (The first shall be last and the last first. Matthew 20:16).
God speaks in a gentle and soft voice and I find that if we are too busy, demanding, noisy (venting) we usually miss it.
As I sat out on the water with the sun caressing my skin, and the beauty of the nature surrounding me, I heard *and that is probably not the right word – as it was not audible* God say to me. “Your husband is the prodigal son, the one that was lost and now found. I delight in him, I want to celebrate him and his return, he is so precious to me. You are the older brother, the one out working in the fields complaining about my love for my son, your brother and yet all that I have is yours.”
Yup that was me. I did not care that God was being particularly wonderful to my husband, frankly at that moment my husband sucked and I was ticked and to me life was not being fair.
When I heard the words, “you are the older brother” it bothered me. The older brother in the prodigal story always has a bad rap, he is a complainer. He is mortified that his father would ever welcome that disrespecting and squandering brother of his back into the family fold. Jewish customs were such that what the youngest son did by demanding his inheritance and then squandering it foolishly, he should be cut off from the community, never mind be welcomed back.
I sat there out on the water that day mulling this over, it was true that events had happened and they were unfair. It was true that I had worked longer and harder for God, I was not out sowing wild oats in the world per se. It was true that I expected to be blessed for my faithfulness as the dedicated one.
But then it occurred to me, did I not at one time belong in the other category? Was there not a time where I was the foolish one out actually sowing wild oats? What if the Prodigal story was about my own life? What if it was about one of my 3 sons? Would I not welcome one of them home if he came home begging for forgiveness? What if it was me begging for forgiveness from God, would I want Him to kick me to the curb?
I started to see the events from God’s perspective. My husband and I both were God’s children, He loves us both, not one more than the other no matter what we “do” for Him or even to Him. He loves us.
Take this to even a higher level. Those people who hurt you in the past? God knows, and He loves you both.
Those people you do not even know, the ones we drive by every day, the ones who are nameless and invisible to us, God loves them, He knows their names because they are His children. Should He not care about His children even if they choose not to care about Him? A good father cannot do that.
A good father waits, patiently, ever watching, praying and waiting for that lost child to come home. The more I pondered, the more I knew I wanted that kind of Father, the one who no matter what I did – ever, would wait for me to come home. He would be watching for me and when He spots me a long way off, He runs, He runs full tilt, He hoists up His tunic and He runs as fast as His older legs will carry Him – right to me, where He scoops me up into a most glorious hug and holds me forever and He breathes the words I have been longing to hear “welcome home” deliciously into my ear.
By the end of my paddle that day, I knew I wanted that kind of Father rather than whatever retaliation against my husband I had been seeking. I was content to go home knowing I was loved no matter what life looked like and that my husband was loved equally, after all that is only fair.
As we begin 2019, instead of a New Year’s resolution or an expectation that life will be “fair” to us and expecting God to “get them” those ones who hurt us, let’s ask instead, “is it time to go home?”
God is waiting, watching for you to come into view, He has been waiting for the moment when He can embrace you in a hug and say, “welcome home”.