Brokenness and Contrition


I am convinced that the Parable of the Prodigal Son is really a picture of how God deals with all of mankind, and we are wise if we realize that this is the case.  Otherwise we miss an overview of God's plans and purposes, and fail to understand what is happening in our lives and why.

Luke 15:11-24  And He [Jesus] said, A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the portion of goods that is coming to me". And he divided his living to them. And not many days afterward, the younger son gathered all together and went away into a far country. And there he wasted his property, with reckless living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land. And he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country. And he sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, and no one gave to him. And when he came to himself, he said, "How many hired servants of my father abound in loaves, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you and am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants'". And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  And the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son." But the father said to his servants, "Bring the best robe and put it on him. And put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf here and kill it. And let us eat and be merry, for this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found." And they began to be merry.

We see in this parable that the father gives his son the inheritance even though the father is still alive!  And the father allows his son to go astray from him with the inheritance.  I suspect that the father knew that his son would waste the inheritance.  Otherwise he probably would not have been watching and waiting for the son to return.

We also see that this adversity that the son encounters brings him to a crisis, and in the crisis the son comes to his senses, realizing that life as father's servant would be preferable to continuing to ruling his own life.  The son properly blames no one but himself for his adversities.

So the son returns to his father, confesses his sins, and hopes to be treated as a servant.  The father, on the other hand, recognizing the son's brokenness and contrition, sees that the pride of life which led his son away from him is gone, so that the father can now trust the son to do the father's will rather than the son's will.

In the same way, God, as Father of Creation, created us in His image, and then lets us go, knowing that all of us are going to go astray from Him after our own ways.  He knows that we have to get this out of our system, experiencing the failure of trying to rule our own lives, and coming to the realization that life with Father in Father's household is better than being a king or queen over our own disaster.

Even King David, the man 'after God's own heart', discovered this truth.  In spite of David's various successes of serving God in his younger years, David goes astray from God after a married woman named Bathsheba, commits adultery with her, has a child by her, tries to cover up his sin by lying and murder, and thinks that he got away with his transgressions.  But then God sends His prophet Nathan to David and convicts David out of David's own mouth!

David is faced with two choices.  He can be like Cain, and continue to blame everyone else for his sins, and whine that God's punishment is too severe.  Or he can humble himself before God, confess his sins in brokenness and contrition, and seek God's mercy and grace in meekness and lowliness of heart. David chooses the latter, and finds a life which is better than before even though he continues to suffer from the damage he did to his family and country.

MY STORY

I can identify with the Prodigal Son.  I thought that I was a pretty good person until I discovered that I was not a good husband and father.  The circumstances of life brought to the surface the selfishness and pride which I had been unaware of.  But God in His mercy sent various people my way to invite me to be reconciled with Him in a way that I had been completely unaware of in spite of the fact that I had spent a lot of time in both protestant and Roman Catholic churches.  It was not until I experienced a day of emotional paralysis that I realized that God could not do any worse than me in managing my life!  So I called one of my new Christian friends to ask what I should do next, and she told me something that I had never heard before, and never heard since.  She said, "I know that you have been raised in church to confess your sins when you commit sins, and to seek forgiveness from God so that you can go on with your life.  I am here to tell you that your whole life is one big sin because you have lived for yourself rather than living for God."  I was shocked, but then realized that that explained why my life was so dysfunctional!  So I asked what I should do next, and she said, "Get down on your knees for you will be talking to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords."  I was duly impressed and got down on my knees.  When my knees touched the floor twenty-six years worth of tears were released.  I cried like a baby.  But when I got up from my knees I felt like I was brand new!

A year later as I read the Old Testament for the first time, I came to God's description of His Old Covenant with Israel, and His New New Covenant:

Jer 31:31-34  Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the [old] covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they broke, although I was an husband unto them, says the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

No more trying to fulfill outward rules and regulations, but having God write His law of love in our hearts!  A great deal! 

But alas, the church has frequently reverted back to rules and regulations rather than seeking God to rewrite the laws in our hearts, removing the laws of selfishness and pride and waywardness, and writing new laws of humility and selflessness and obedience by the power of the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Now, though, I believe that God is intent on restoring the simplicity and reality of His New Covenant to His people to bring an end to our carnality so that we can become one in spirit with Him by abiding in Jesus, The True Vine, and letting His life be fully manifested in us.

So, brokenness and contrition become the gateways to a new and wonderful relationship with God as our Father, Jesus Christ as our Lord, and the Holy Spirit of God as our Helper. 

But don't make the mistake of just being as broken and contrite as you can be by yourself.  Ask Jesus to take your brokenness and to grind you to dust, burn off the impurities of your old life, water you with His Spirit, and mold you into the child of God that God wants you to be!