Bread In the House

 Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’11-12

 “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.12-16

 “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.17-20

 “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’20-21

 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.22-24

“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’25-27 

 “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’28-30

 “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”31-32  Luke 15:11-32 The Message (MSG)

I home school two of my children. Last year for our Bible class, I read the book, “Compelled by Love” by Heidi Baker to my girls. While finishing it up, we saw an ad for a conference where she would be speaking, so we loaded up the kids and headed on our family vacation to attend.

One evening while she spoke, she announced that the next great reformation would begin with the prodigals coming home. She kept calling for the church to have fresh bread to give them, that if the churches don’t have fresh bread when the prodigal children come home, they will go hungry and go elsewhere. Her message really resonated with me, for I had just had a friend of mine run away from her family.

There have been times in my own life that I felt like running away. Sometimes, I’ve thought those I love would be better off without me. Honestly, my fear of what the consequences would be is what held me home. Deep down, I’ve also had an abiding desire to please God. I’ve known how that would disappoint Him. Sometimes, after people hear my story they are amazed I’ve not run, rejecting the church, God, and everything Christian. I suppose I had every reason to reject the “religious institution” of “church”. For whatever reason, fear of the pig pen and having to eat pig slop, or really wanting to do what is right, I stayed and have painfully wrestled out my relationships and healing.

As I’ve watched others bolt, there have been times that I’ve even played the part of the older brother, with quick judgment of why they left, and more judgments when they have returned. There have been times in my life that I’ve avoided at all cost the broken, because I was afraid if I got close my own brokenness would be revealed. But the more I’ve pressed into my own mess, and let Jesus come and heal me, my heart somehow more resembles His heart, and I’ve longed for the return of my brothers and sisters. Some have returned, some have begun to wake up and think about coming home, and some are still lost. When they do decide to return, they face what I did as well, if I reveal my brokenness, if I come back home, will I be welcomed, or will I be judged and shoved away?

I was tested in this recently, when across from me sat a woman with large piercings, colored hair, and dark tattoos. I heard the whisper in my ear, “Go sit by her and talk.” I didn’t hesitate, but got up and sat down with a smile. A couple of years ago, I may have obeyed, but would have done it shaking on the inside. She told me her story, and said it was the non-judgmental love of her husband that had brought her to Christ. She struggled to know where she fit in “church”, because so many “churches” wouldn’t accept her. I could tell she still had icky residue left over from her life before Christ. She had been a witch, a pagan and still was dabbling a bit with some questionable things. But all I felt towards her was the compassionate heart of the Father. All I saw in her eyes was a little girl who wanted to be loved.

This leads us to the heart of the Father. I love the heart of the Father. He gives us free will and let’s us walk away, yet every second we are gone, He waits patiently for us to come to our senses and come home. And yes, it cost Him. Not just the loss of our inheritance. It cost the life of His son, Jesus. And yet, He waits, He longs, He expects us any minute. And when we show up at the end of the driveway, He doesn’t just walk out or stand at the door; He, the God of the universe, runs to meet us, throws His arms around us and smothers us with kisses. He reinstates us as sons and daughters, even before we can ask His forgiveness. He throws his robe across our shoulders, and puts His ring on our finger. He celebrates us. What was lost is now found. What was dead is now alive. There is much bread in His house for the ones coming home. In fact, He throws a feast!

I believe that Heidi Baker’s words are true. The next great reformation will begin with the lost children coming home, The question is will God’s children be ready to receive them. Will we have Papa’s heart towards them? Will we be willing to embrace them with the pig pen ick still caked on their legs? Will we celebrate them, and love them back to life? Will there be bread in the house?

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