(I wrote this blog entry in November of 2009, a mere two weeks into my first real attempt at recovery – and two months before the relapse that almost took me down. The Penington quotation still brings hope to my heart.)
Prodigal Daughter Struggles to Understand an Even More Prodigal* Father
I know, dear heart, that your outward trials are painful and bitter. And I know also that the Lord is able to sustain you through them and make you able to stand your ground. O that you could dwell in the knowledge and sense of this: the Lord sees your sufferings with an eye of pity and also is able to achieve some good through them. He is able to bring life and wisdom to you through your trials. He will one day give you dominion over that which grieves and afflicts you.
This is a part of God I’m learning – the compassionate, merciful, loving Father who looks on His children as broken creatures, wanting desperately for them to come near so He can heal them. For so long, I stayed away when I knew I had sinned (or, more accurately, knew I was in the process of sinning), afraid that my time in His presence would meet with condemnation. I was afraid of the Lord’s judgment, just as I am afraid of everyone’s judgment – afraid of being deemed unworthy. The longer I stay away, the harder it is to come back – I remain afraid of a Father who wants nothing more than to place a ring on my finger, a coat on my back, and throw a party at my return.
I was in prayer with a pastor at my church over the past few weeks regarding things that are going on – discovering the battle that is always going on for my soul, that is trying to draw me away from my calling, and figuring out how to take hold of the power that is already won in Christ to defeat these forces. We talked about what was going on and then started to pray. She told me that the Lord’s heart for me was one of compassion and mercy, not condemnation. She seemed almost surprised as she told me that while the Lord wasn’t condoning my choices, He understood why I had done what I had done.
I was, and am, astonished. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of a God, a Father, a Husband, a Lover, who accepts me without precondition. Who loved me before the world began and no series of horrid choices on my part can change that. Who has known my destiny since before I was knit together in my mother’s womb and has protected me against all forces of evil that would try to keep me from fulfilling that purpose. Mercies new each morning, and even when I stumble and fall, He brings life and wisdom from these mistakes.
I am so unworthy of such a God. And so humbled that He would call me His own.
*prodigal (n.) – excessively lavish, recklessly extravagant