Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Prodigal Father- Part 1

Life here in Ukraine often throws me an unexpected curve ball.  For example, I'm the lead male vocalist for our Church's worship band.  How in the world is the American with a 2 year old's vocabulary and diction skills singing worship songs in Russian and Ukrainian?

Here's another: Last summer I was asked to speak about The Father Heart of God at Camp.  Ok, that's not a terrible stretch- He's my Heavenly Father and I've known Him now for 30 years.  But I've never been a "Dad".  Why am I the one talking about "Fathering"?

And here's another: I was asked to address the topic again this summer at camp.  Last year I drew heavily upon an old sermon (brochure) from Last Days' Ministries and John Dawson.  I remembered reading it many years ago and so I adapted it for use here.

A couple months ago when I was asked to speak about the Father Heart of God again, I knew almost instantly that I wanted to go with Luke 15- what most of us know as the story of The Prodigal Son.

Upon doing some internet research I discovered that Louie Giglio had preached a sermon about The Prodigal Father.  (Apparently the word, Prodigal, which we (I) have associated with wanton wastefulness can also simply mean, "lavishness").  Ie, the young son was "lavish" in wasting his time and money, but the Father was equally (moreso!) lavish is extending mercy and grace.

So anyway, as I prayed over and studied the familiar passage my eyes were drawn to verse 20.  You've had that happen before, right?  Where something you've read in the Bible a hundred times jumps out at you with newness that can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit?  Maybe it's the "language learner" in me that I find myself more attuned to sentence structure and such...but do you see what I see?

In the ESV it says: v 20- And he arose and came to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

See it?  Five Verbs in that second sentence... his father SAW him and FELT compassion, and RAN and EMBRACED him and KISSED him.

So I shared the narrative and I explained some of the background (going back to chapter 9 we see that Jesus has already "set his face" towards Jerusalem...that adds extra weight to everything he says and does thereafter) but then I came back to Verse 20 and camped-out.

The thought occurred to me during my study: What are the antonyms to those five verbs?  Many of us have good, Godly men to father us here on earth but certainly not everyone, not in America and not here in Ukraine.  Our personal experiences are often the opposite of good and Godly and how we experience our earthly father affects how we experience our Heavenly Father.

I asked my "audience" of young Ukrainians to help me out with those antonyms and here's what they came up with for the first verb- SAW.

The opposite is that no one is looking for you, no one sees you, the result is that you feel invisible. 

Unfortunately, a lot of people you and I know have felt that way before.  Maybe all of us have.  But to feel that from a father- or any parent-figure or loved one, obviously, is devastating.

That's not what the "prodigal son" felt when he returned home.  His father SAW him!  Not only did his father see him, he was LOOKING for him.  Do you remember the movie, Avatar (aka, Dances with Wolves in Outerspace)?  "I See You" was an important concept in the movie that meant something akin to, "I see the real you and I love you".

In Genesis 16:13 Hagar assigns the name El Roi to God meaning "The God who sees me".

That's our God- that's our Father!  He Sees Us.  We are never invisible to Him.  We are never lost to Him.

Tune in tomorrow for the verb FILLED (Filled with compassion in NIV, Felt Compassion in ESV).

Me preaching (with Christina translating) at the first Camp.


WonderGirl said...

I was shocked to learn the true meaning of the word, "prodigal" a few years back. I had it wrong all along, too! The sermon was on "the true prodigal son" which would be Jesus, who is lavish in all the right ways to His Father, and to us. I found it really interesting and fresh to view the passage with a better understanding of the word, and comparing what the son in the story did versus what the True Son did. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your posts on the subject!

Vickie (Clinton's sister) said...

Me, too. I never knew the true meaning, either. This is great. It opens whole new frontiers of praise and meditation...

Janet T said...

I love where you are going with this story!! The sad truth is that so many more people can relate their own experiences to that verse if the original verbs were substituted with their antonyms, but by looking at it that way, it just makes the true meaning of what God is willing to do for us, what he wants to do for us, and what He WILL do for us, just so much more powerful and amazing!!