When God looks directly into your eyes and says softly – ‘I love you my son, I made you perfectly to my specifications’. When we deserve punishment and are handed grace. When we deserve to be shunned but we are invited.
As a kid, I quickly got good at using humour as a mask. I would avoid being serious and vulnerable because then I would never be hurt. I learned how to not trust anybody, especially leadership and authority. I was a renegade, the “peoples gypsy”.
I began believing the lies that are sometimes referred to as the “Australian Spirit of Rejection.” You can see it in our humour, in our mate-ship, in our relationship with authority. I just took it to the next level in sarcasm and and selfish escapism. Jesus speaks of a boy who rejects his father. He looked in his fathers eyes and wished an early death. ‘I wish you were dead because I want my inheritance now.’ In God’s grace, the father gives his son what is asked.
The story follows the son into partying, traveling and selfish excess until he has spent all of it. So poor is this young man that he begins to wish he could eat with pigs. His view of the father is such that he doesn’t run first to his Dad for help. In fact, he goes one step further and puts himself mentally into a slaves position.
This point of the story was me. I had reformed in my mind a version of God that didn’t exist. A god that was disappointed in me, a god who was silent and angry and vengeful. I didn’t go to him for help, I sorted it all out myself. In fact, I would often quote my own conclusions by saying out-loud ‘I only follow God logically’ He was my creator and owner, so I don’t have a choice in the matter. I was his slave, like the Jews were to Pharaoh.
As the young man walks back to his fathers house, expecting at least a beating, his father sees him far off. Not only was the father searching for him often, he doesn’t wait for the son to return. He takes off as soon as he sees his son. Now I imagine this man wasn’t a long distance runner, he probably wasn’t wearing his running shorts. But he didn’t care. He just wanted to get to his son as fast as possible. He may have lost a sandal whilst running, or stripped off his outer cloak, leaving it in the field somewhere. Tears in his eyes and ignoring the ache in his legs and the stitch in his side, the father doesn’t slow down. His embrace is so intense, so joy-fueled, that they end up on the ground. The son that wanted him dead. The son he had had nightmares about was in his arms. Love was covering these two men so much that all time was forgotten.
As I sat in a room letting God revolutionize how I saw him, a man named Tom Hallas, a fatherly, wise and hilarious man from my home town, enveloped me in his arms and began to cry. God loved me so much that as soon as he saw me on the horizon he chased me down. Even when he got close and I ran away a little bit he got me. In that room almost three years ago to the day God the father stared me in the eyes and said ‘I love you’ and I lost it.
Discipleship begins when we know who we are following. As a beloved friend of God my heart is soft.
Imagine what Australia would look like if all 22.8 million of us allowed God to deeply engage us with his love.
He wants to. Jeremy Barry Randall
YWAM Newcastle Staff