Jump Start # 3299
Luke 15:18-19 “I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.’”
It was a busy Friday afternoon. Boy, I had a lot to do. I was trying to finish up things needed for Sunday. I had some correspondences that needed my attention. We were at the end of a quarter of classes and I needed to spend some time getting things ready for the next set of classes. I had sermons that I needed to go through in preparation for an upcoming meeting in a week. I was not just burning the candle on both ends, I think it was burning in the middle as well. Swamped is how I felt. There was so much to do.
The doorbell rang at the church building. A guy in his 30’s, wearing a hat and a sleeveless shirt was standing there. I figured he probably wanted money. He asked if I was the preacher, and most times after that comes a sad story about out of job and out of money. It didn’t happen this time. He wanted to know if I would say a prayer for him. I looked at him and he was crying. One doesn’t see that often, especially among young men and even more so among strangers.
I invited him in. We sat. He was on his way to detox. His life was a mess. Alcohol had a hold of him and he couldn’t break free. He had been arrested multiple times for public intoxication. The more he told this story, the harder he cried. We talked about making changes in his life. He had to get off this merry-go-round of going to detox and falling off the wagon. It had happened so many times. I gave him a Bible. I told him to read Luke 15, where our passage today comes from. Broken, hopeless and lost was the prodigal and so was this man sitting with me. We prayed. He fell on my shoulder, wetting my shirt with his tears. I told him unless God gets in his life, he’ll always fight and always lose these battles. Jericho. Goliath. Victories that came about only from the Lord. God was greater than his problem.
As he left, I told him that I wanted to see him again. I told him that I would be there for him. He needed someone in his corner and now he was going to have God and me. He drove away. I went back to my long stack of things to do, but now all I could think about was this broken man. I hope I said the right things to him. I prayed again for him. All of a sudden, classes, deadlines and all this work that was pressing on me didn’t seem to matter. I am thankful he stopped. I am thankful how honest he was.
The world we live in is broken. Our culture is good at wearing masks that cover up the pain that it carries. All around us, at work, in the neighborhood, in stores, are people looking but not finding what they truly need. God needs us to be there. The world needs us, whether it realizes that or not.
The demons of drugs and alcohol are so powerful. It’s hard for those who have never stepped into that world to realize just how dangerous and destructive they are. I saw just the night before on Facebook an ad proclaiming “Fifteen healthy reasons to drink whisky.” It wasn’t a joke. I would love for the person who posted that to have sat with me this afternoon and seen how broken, tired and miserable this man was who I was talking with. Alcohol was destroying him.
The choices and the influences in our lives make all the difference. Young people are wanting to break free and run to the world of sin, little do they see how much danger they are headed to. Our fellowship reminds us of how powerful worship is. Our fellowship strengths us. Our bond that we have in Christ helps us.
When a person is coming to their senses, as the prodigal did, it is not a time for lectures, sermons or “I told you so.” Compassion is needed. Listening is foremost. Tender care and gentleness are the need of the hour.
His name is Chad. I do not know how his story will end. I do not know if I will ever see him again. But he turned to Jesus. That’s the best choice he’s made in a long while.
If you get a moment today, will you lift his name to God and pray that the Lord help him in this long battle he’s facing. May he have the heart of the prodigal. May he find God’s people and may we be the help that he needs.
A busy day that reminded me of what is really important and what my true work is.