Read His Words Before Ours!
As I begin typing, my mind keeps wandering to everything on my “to-do list” so I can avoid this transparency. But, with a deep breath, and a convicted spirit, I tell you this:
I have lived a life full of legalism.
I have lived a life where the world is black and white.
I either pleased God or angered Him.
Sitting with my counselor several years ago, I explained that I could almost see the Lord frowning at me throughout different points in my life, as He found Himself, once again, disappointed by my mistakes. Because of this mental imagine, I lived a life trying to make a frowning God smile with approval for me. I would belt my little heart out singing on a Sunday morning and listen intently to the pastor speak. Some weeks I felt especially holy and would even take notes during the sermon.
There are exact moments in my memory where I recall stopping and thinking, “Ah! I’m really making God happy now!” One day, I explained the power of grace in the most clear and convicting message to another friend, and I knew, I just knew, that I had earned another jewel for my heavenly crown. Another time a woman asked me how much she owed me for babysitting her little loves and with a heart full of pride I smiled and said, “You don’t owe me a thing. I just want to minister to you today.” I really did want to minister to families like hers. I really did want my friends to understand grace. But sometimes I got too caught up trying to please the Lord instead of living out the things He had placed in my heart.
This only led to a complete crash when I found myself living a life of secrecy in my late teens. I attempted to outweigh the Lord’s certain displeasure, by serving and praying even more.
I was doing something so many of us find ourselves doing: I was living below my birthright – the birthright that I gained when I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. The birthright that promised that because of Jesus, I had an unshakeable inheritance in Heaven. Before I could make the Lord even more upset with me, I decided I should just end it all. I hit the lowest place of my life.
Looking back now, I can see that my life has been a lot like our “Prodigal Son”. Sure, I’ve made some big mistakes, wandered away from my Father, and found my way home again, but I’ve also been caught in the trap of legalism. The Prodigal and I both lived below our birthright.
One day, when that wayward son finally became more desperate than he could bear, he thought to himself, “My father’s servants have more food than I do. They don’t wonder where their next meal will come from, and they at least have beds to sleep on. I will go to my father and tell him that I am no longer worthy to be called his son and ask him to treat me as one of his hired servants.”
No. Longer. Worthy.
That was exactly how I felt. I felt I wasn’t worthy of the Lord’s grace. I wasn’t worthy of His forgiveness. I wasn’t worthy of His compassion. And I certainly wasn’t worthy to represent His Kingdom anymore.
The shame-wrecked boy, though having never lost his place as redeemed son, felt he had completely lost his worth. He was so caught up in his sin, his emotional despair, and lies about who he wasn’t, that he didn’t feel like his father would even want him to be his son anymore!
As a mama myself, it’s utterly unfathomable to imagine one of my daughters begging to be my housecleaner because they don’t deserve to be my daughter anymore. In youth ministry, I’ve seen kids make mistakes. I’ve seen parents weep in agony over their children. I’ve never seen a parent disown a child, but even so, we live in a fallen world and I know parents make awful mistakes. I know some of you have been disowned. But Jesus tells us this story so we can know that He will never abandon, never turn us away, and never disinherit us.
It’s against His nature as the perfect Father.
The Prodigal Son found himself
so caught up in legalism,
so overtaken by disappointing his father,
that he lost sight of the truth.
He was his father’s son. And nothing could strip that title, that birthright, away from him.
I am my Father’s daughter.
You, friend, are your Father’s daughter.
Nothing, absolutely nothing can take that away from you.
Our Father will do anything for us (He already has), and He will always, beyond a shadow of a doubt, love us deeper than we can comprehend.
There is freedom
when we embrace the truth of our birthright, which is 100% gained when we decide to follow Jesus.
Peace, grace, and joy await us when we aren’t living a life caught up in appeasing a God who already paid the debt we owe.
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