Tears of

Posted: 30th September 2012 by iBarnabas in journaling
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I cried in a restaurant.

Things are really a mess lately. I’ve got stress points from all sides. Work, family, church, health, finance, etc. Seems like a perfect storm.

Work is in a perpetual state of transition which seems to fill any available time with a backlog of tasks. But, that’s not why I cried. Family involves drama and conflict and distance and worry for our children, parents and grand children. But, that’s not why I cried. Our church is in transition, or maybe its just me. I seem to be having a hard time finding my place. But, that’s not why I cried. Health is an ongoing struggle that worsens and becomes more tenuous as we age. Back pain and stomach issues take some attention off of a mostly sedentary obesity. But, that’s not why I cried. A grossly underwater second house, that we left behind for a better opportunity, has good company among heavy debt that we seem to only be nibbling at overcoming. But, that’s not why I cried.

I cried because of a memory. More precisely because of memories that I’ve left behind. The message at church recently, was about the parable of the prodigal son found in the Bible at Luke chapter 15: A son disrespected his father and squandered his inheritance until he found himself ruined by his own actions. There is this point in the story where he’s lost all hope but to come home and beg his father to make him a hired servant (more, really, than he deserved). Instead, in a complete reversal of deserved misfortune, his father runs out to meet him and celebrates his return.

Many years ago I squandered the wonderful things God had entrusted me with until I found myself ruined. Worse was the personal damage I had caused others; mostly my own family. My wife and children had been neglected and ultimately came to hate me and who I had become. I found myself like the son in the parable, wanting any little scraps from the God and family I had sinned against. What I, too, deserved was nothing. What I, too, received was a second chance.

The parable doesn’t say much about what happened later in the son’s life. For me, change was necessary. It was like waking up from a coma and realizing that I didn’t like the man I had become. All I knew of him was that he had hurt those he was supposed to love, abandoned those he was supposed to provide for. Disregarded the hearts and lives of those he was supposed to Foster and edify. He was not a good man. So, I choose to use him – me – as an example of what not to do. I set out for a total person Makeover. As the days turned to months and years, I had emerged bit by bit into a new man leaving the old behind to wither and die.

Change comes hard. The first step is the most revealing. When you discover, sadly way later then you’d have liked, that your life is not what it should be. That the things you’ve done, the person you are, the very things that define you, are out of sync with who you could be. That life has been squandered, wealth lost, trusts broken, hearts wounded. And at the very bottom of it all, the least common denominator … is you. This is the saddest, loneliest place to be and yet the very best as well. It is here where I realized, like the parable, that I needed the Father’s help. My hands, my mind and heart had failed miserably. They were not to be trusted. They were not to survive! Instead, by the grace of God, by the mercy and peace that only he can afford through the ultimate cost of his death and resurrection, I was re-created.

This. This memory of a squandered life and wounded hearts, this memory of wasted love and misery, this memory of stepping out of the depths of who I had become, toward a loving God, and allowing myself to be re-created in the design of my Lord. This memory that I’ve all but forgotten my former life and embraced a new one. That I’ve not only accepted the grace and mercy but chosen to wield them as weapons of spiritual warfare. This is why I cried in a restaurant.

This is also why I must trust Him still; to continue this work in me, and to heal the stresses of work, family, health and finances. That He would re-create brokenness, and worry, and anxiety, and wounds and broken hearts into His design. Something wonderful and unexpected. Something worth shedding a tear of love in a crowded restaurant.