Love Enough To Let Go
In the message “Their Field of Pigs” we considered the parable of the prodigal son and were encouraged to remember that God will use every tool available (even pigs) to draw His children Home. Our highest desire for our children must be to see them secure in the arms of God. Notice that in this parable there’s no mention of the father between the time the son left and when he returned home. The father appears to have watched his son leave and then simply waited for his return.
The father must have known of his son’s condition while away; “this son of mine was dead and is alive again” (Luke 15:24). There must have been many reports of the son’s activities which were openly discussed with the rest of the family: “The older brother became angry…’this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home'” (Luke 15:28,30). And yet, while the son was away, the father never once stepped in to “rescue” him.
Was the father lazy and uncaring? Was this simply the product of a macho culture that didn’t show much emotion? Or rather, was this a father who truly knew how God’s grace could work a difficult situation toward a wonderful good?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
We often reference this passage during times of personal trial. These verses encourage us to understand the purpose of our difficult times and to trust God so fully that we actually rejoice because we know He is using our trials to make us complete.
Many of us understand and at least try to apply these verses in our own life. But it’s an additional step of faith (a very big step) to trust and apply these verses in the life of others – especially those we dearly love. If we are to rejoice in our own trials because of the good being worked within us, there is also a sense in which we should rejoice in the trials of others.
As painful as it must have been, the father allowed God to complete His work – even though it meant his son would actually long to eat with the pigs! And yes, this father loved his son.
When someone we love goes astray, let’s continue to lift them up in prayer – always let them know they are loved and continually speak a gentle message of truth. Let’s NEVER give up hope, but let’s allow God to finish the glorious work He’s begun. Let’s trust Him above ALL else and love enough to let go.
John 11:11-16 – Lesson #113
[Note: This is the verse by verse devotional series on the gospel of John. My original plan was to send out a new message in this series every Friday – but I’ve not been very consistent with this plan. All the previous lessons in this series are located on our web site.]
One of the mistakes I believe we are making in the church today is our rush to focus Christianity on the cross. Now please understand what I mean. The cross is absolutely essential – without the cross there is no forgiveness of sin, no Christianity. But isn’t it also true that Christianity is something more. Didn’t Jesus live among us as well as die for us? And in His living didn’t He teach us truths and show us how to live and mature in our faith?
The disciples walked with Jesus hour after hour and day after day. Jesus could have focused all His teaching on His future sacrifice for sin, but He didn’t. Sure, He often demonstrated He was the Son of God; and He made sure His claims were clear; “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28). But His technique for discipleship usually required wrestling with issues of trust and prioritized values. It seems there are steps of maturity which can only be taken as they are lived out through various struggles.
Jesus received word that Lazarus was sick but then waited two days before saying He would return to Judea. The disciples were content to wait because the Jews in Judea had already tried to kill Jesus – safety and comfort are good, aren’t they? But Jesus taught that true safety is only found by walking in His light (John 11:9-10).
“These things He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ Then His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.’ Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.'”
Jesus waited for Lazarus to die and then was glad He had not been with Lazarus to stop his death. Why? Because Jesus was committed to the long and painful process of discipleship. The disciples already believed, but they needed the deepening belief of a maturing faith. The disciples were learning lessons on facing their fears, trusting God’s timing, and the glory of His power. And these lessons could not be learned from a sermon.
The disciples had no idea what Jesus had planned. But when Thomas realized that Jesus was resolved to go to Lazarus in spite of the danger, he too resolved to follow…even unto death. This seems to be the method by which Jesus led His disciples. Over a period of several years they were allowed to struggle with what it really meant to follow, what it really meant to believe.
Today, the plan of discipleship is much the same. We are often led down paths we do not understand. We ask questions and receive confusing answers. We wrestle and become weary. And still He calls, “Let’s go!” And I suppose that’s the point. We just don’t need all the answers. We are simply called to follow and live out the life we have been given in Christ. This is a life which loves God and reaches out to others at every opportunity. Let’s learn to trust Him with all our heart and follow intimately close every hour of every day to the very end.