Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Jesus Walked into a Bar

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
-Luke 15:11-24

When I was twenty-two years old, I moved back to the small town I grew up in. I was the prodigal daughter come home. I had just returned from a 3 year stint of a partying lifestyle just like the prodigal son in the story found in Luke 15.

In the fall of the previous year, I was working as a waitress in a bar at the beach when I met this guy. We started dating. At some point he started talking to me about God and Church. I was very responsive for two reasons I think. One, I was raised in the Church. I had come to know the Lord at age 12, and was baptized in the Spirit at age 13. Two, I was tired. I was so tired of the life I was living.

It was exhausting, emotionally, physically, everything. I was smoking and drinking, and my body was worn down. I have a picture from around that time when my nephew was born. My face was so swollen and I looked more aged then than I do now. I was ready to come home.

So, I started going to church with this guy. He and I made quite a pair. The Church has become a little bit more progressive in its lack of judgment on the external now, but then I felt like we were a little odd. Thank God, literally, that nobody pointed it out. How would that have affected my outcome?

One Sunday we went to church, and I wore this very trendy, but revealing one-piece outfit that laced up the back and tied at my waist. It was just spaghetti straps in the front and very low cut. My boyfriend had really long hair, but usually pulled it back when we went to church. The church we attended was very formal, one where the choir is fully robed, and the minister is robed, and the building is very ornate. We always sat in the balcony, so as not to draw attention to ourselves. Looking back on that particular visit, I am so thankful that the Body of Christ represented there was so thankful that we were present and didn’t say anything about my wardrobe.

As time went on, I became more and more interested in God. I started watching Bible teaching on TV, and continued to attend church. I began to read my Bible, the best I knew how. Memories of things I had learned in childhood, and experiences I had came flooding back. The light was reintroduced and I was no longer in the dark.

Eventually, my boyfriend and I broke up, and I moved home to be near my family. I wish I could say that I continued my walk with the Lord faithfully, but it took a few years before I quit allowing things to lure me back into a lifestyle that was full of pain and sadness. At some point I realized I was grieving the Holy Spirit, and I couldn’t take it anymore. He loved me.

A few years later, I left home again. Only this time, I was not setting out for the place that had brought me down. I was being led into a new beginning by God. He called me to go to Bible School. At first it was hard for me, because I still felt so unworthy. How could I, with the mess I had been, go to a school where they taught the most precious thing on this earth, the Word of God.

But Jesus had made me worthy with His blood.

Sometime later I had an epiphany. The light came on. It wasn’t my boyfriend who walked into that bar. It was Jesus. He was looking for His lost sheep.

So no matter what middle place you find yourself in today, know that Jesus is looking for you too. He wants to carry you home.

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
-Luke 15:1-7 (NKJV)

If you would like to know more about Jesus and what He has done for you, please go here.

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