Best of Daily Reflections: Have You Come to Yourself?
"When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!' "
Today, we begin considering one of the most beloved passages in all of Scripture, that which we call the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Through this parable, Jesus paints a stunning picture of God and his relationship with us. Building on the Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, Jesus depicts God as the ultimate, gracious seeker of his lost children.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son begins with the shocking insolence of the younger of two sons, who demanded that his father give him his share of the inheritance even while his father was still alive. Perhaps even more shockingly, the father acquiesced to his son's demand. Given what we can surmise about the younger son, we're not surprised when his life fell apart. In fact, we might even feel that justice was served. The young man appears to get what was coming to him. It would have been hard for Jesus' audience to imagine someone falling lower than feeding pigs and wishing that he could eat their food.
At this point, the younger son "came to his senses" (15:17). The original Greek reads more literally, he "came to himself." I picture this young man seeing himself as if he were a separate person. Emerging from the haze of debauchery and delusion, he saw himself with clear vision. He had made an utter mess of his life, no doubt about it. He was a dismal failure economically, morally, relationally, and religiously.
Though we might never find ourselves feeding pigs and wanting to eat their slop, many of us have had a "coming to ourselves" experience. All of a sudden, we see with pristine clarity the sorry results of the choices we have made. We admit with painful honesty that our lives are far from what we had hoped they would be. This moment can lead to devastating despair. It can also lead to God. When we realize our own feebleness and failure, we are ready to turn—or to return—to God.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever had a "coming to yourself" experience? When? What happened? Are there ways you need to "come to yourself" even today, so that you might turn to God for the help God alone can supply?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, as I reflect upon the Parable of the Prodigal Son, I'm reminded of times when I "came to myself." I think of how I came to see myself in my weakness and sin. I remember how it felt to acknowledge my personal failures and limitations.
How thankful I am that you did not abandon me in my hour of distress. Rather, my "coming to myself" was a prelude to my coming to you in a new way. My acceptance of my own desperation was the first step to accepting your grace afresh.
Finally, I thank you, Lord, for the Spirit, who brings conviction of sin. Indeed, you help me to "come to myself" so that I might come to you. How good you are to me! Amen.
P.S. FROM MARK: I am writing a series for my blog that you might find interesting. It’s called: How Does God Guide Us? In this series, I’m looking at the variety of ways in which God guides our lives. Check out my blog for the most recent post in this series.