But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.’ – Luke 15:29a
Here is how you know if you are a religious, older brother: It is absolutely no fun being a Christian. Notice that the older brother has looked at some number of years as being a slave to his father. One of the greatest checks I frequently make when it comes to following Christ is asking myself, “Do I enjoy being a Christian?” If the answer is “no,” I kind of shut it all down. I don’t read my Bible and I only say one prayer, “Lord, give me a love for You again, give me a desire to read Your Word, please let my Christianity be a want to and not a have to.” It does not usually take long at all until I just miss Him and want to be with Him.
‘Yet you never even gave me a young goat that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him.’ – Luke 15:29b-30
I will never forget after being a Christian for probably 10 years that I felt totally ripped off by God. I didn’t think that after 10 years of “service” that I had received my proper reward. Much like the older brother in the story, I didn’t like seeing people who were doing less than me seeming to be rewarded more than me. I felt like I had kept my end of the deal. Why wasn’t God keeping His?
‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” – Luke 15:31
I remember finding out that my favorite preacher to watch on television was only an hour and a half away. Tonya and I drove there one Sunday. From the moment I walked in the door, I felt God’s presence. It was all I could do to not just cry. I thought how ridiculous that would look if I just let it out right then and there in the lobby. I held it together until they sang a song called “When I Think About the Lord” by Christ for the Nations:
When I think about the Lord
How He saved me
How He raised me
How He filled me with the Holy Ghost
How He healed me to the uttermost
When I think about the Lord
How He picked me up and turned me around
How He placed my feet on solid ground
It makes me want to shout
Hallelujah! Thank You Jesus
Lord You’re worthy of all the glory and all the honor and all the praise
My Heavenly Father came to visit me that day. He told me the same thing the father said in Luke 15, “You are always with me.” I don’t know how it happens, but sin has a way of convincing me that God isn’t enough. Think about that, the God of the Universe is with me. When I am thinking properly, that is absolutely astounding to me. When I’m thinking only of myself and have that “What’s in it for me?” attitude, I look up at a holy, mighty, magnificent Heavenly Father and basically say, “You aren’t doing enough for me.”
I guess the question all of us have to answer is this: Is God enough for you? If He never granted a single want or wish, could you still love Him? If all He does is give you Himself, is that enough for you? Would you honestly prefer gifts from the Giver over the Giver of the gifts?
Lord, just give me you! May your presence alone be more than enough for me. Help me always be amazed that you are with me. Help me always rejoice with you when those messy, younger, immature sons come home. Help me never forget that I used to be one.