Sometimes, I wonder if God counts a glass of whiskey and a cigar by a fire on a quiet Wednesday as a form of “communion.”
Not because I’m some rebel, hardened Christian who likes to drink – actually, I think of it more like that episode of How I Met Your Mother in which they get Barney “honest drunk,” when his eyes are glossed over and he holds nothing back. Any question they ask him, he’ll answer.
Sometimes it feels like God invites us for a drink with Him, to loosen us up just a little bit to be honest with Him. Maybe I’m crazy, maybe not.
Tonight, I’m reminded of the story of the prodigal son, for a lot of reasons, and hopefully I’ll be able to keep them straight.
Everyone feels like the prodigal son, you know? It’s the most relatable story in the Bible because at its core, it’s a story of salvation – it’s THE salvation story. We all make mistakes, we all run far away, we all feel wasteful. I felt like the prodigal son years ago, even before I made my big mistakes. It’s a powerful story probably because of the fact that we experience it more than just once.
In high school, my “big” sins were trying out cuss words; being exposed to a few pornographic images, and not doing my homework on time. My “big confessions” were being addicted to a video game (which, back then, did I even know what addiction really was?) not doing my chores, and occasionally lying to my parents.
Now, my “big sins” are different. My “big sins” are that ex I got too intimate with, those nights I got a little too crazy going out with my friends, gossiping about co-workers behind their backs, skipping church for months in a row, working up thousands of dollars of credit card debt – it kinda gets bigger as you go along.
In high school, running away from God meant spending a few days out of the Bible, listening to secular music once or twice, and not witnessing to EVERYONE at high school.
Now, running away from God means dissing the church (something I’ve done more than I wish I have,) abandoning my spiritual identity, picking on and criticizing Christian culture…
There’s a line in a song that says, “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us.”
Tonight, that line rang around in my head, almost obnoxiously. It rang around because I think God was trying to get my attention – I make a lot of time to maintain my regrets. I make a lot of time to think about the year 2015 – The Year Without God. I make a lot of time to think about how long I was out of church; the mistakes I made in relationships; the degree to which I let work rule my life; the degree to which I let responsibilities and obligations rule me…
If I have time to maintain my regrets, then maybe I’m not thinking about the way that He (God) loves me. That line isn’t ripped straight out of the Bible, but I think it’s true nevertheless. Tim Keller talks about the “overmastering power of a positive passion,” in which God, in all of His glory and splendor, His goodness, majesty, and mercy; overrides our motivations, our habits, our desires, and (I believe) even our regrets. Think about it: on your wedding day, are you caught up in how your past relationships failed, or are you busy thinking about how wonderful your current love is?
God is gentle and loving – tonight, I heard Him gently say, “stop thinking about it. Stop making time for regrets.”
The reality is – there’s a lot of work to do. There’s a harvest that’s plentiful, there’s a field that’s white. There’s a gospel to spread, there are people to love, there’s a Kingdom to consummate – so how do I have time to sit around and lament the past?