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All Kinds of Time

From the time I was a tiny wisp of a girl, nothing would furrow my brow and make me more determined than someone telling me I couldn't do something. I would do it or die trying. That's not my best quality, but I will say God has used it for good. That's how I stayed on the dean's list going through college courses with two infants and a husband who worked around the clock. It's how I survived when sorrow settled over my life like a black cloud.  That's how I keep from turning back when life is dang hard. Nothing puts me back on the path of obedience like being reminded satan wants me to fail.  I will not - not as long God is my help.

"God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns." 
Psalm 46:5

For many years, my life was moving way ahead of schedule. Ahead of my schedule, definitely ahead of my parent's schedule, certainly ahead of the world's schedule. In the blink of an eye, I went from being a spoiled teenager with no responsibilities to having a husband, mortgage, and two babies. (Okay, that span was actually about three years, but that's pretty close to a blink.)

At twenty-six, I was delivering my fourth child, anticipating the purchase of our second home, and celebrating seven years of marriage. Many, many things about approaching life from this angle were uphill and challenging, but the one perk we held onto with both hands was that we were ahead of the game. My husband and I are both big dreamers and, for the longest time, we had the luxury of feeling like we had "all kinds of time" to see those dreams through to fruition. The youngest of our friends to reach so many milestones, we bought into the illusion that we had cheated the system somehow, finding each other so young and climbing the ladder of life so quickly.

Nearly a decade later, that makes me laugh.

We were abundantly blessed with more children than we anticipated and we accumulated more responsibility and more debt than we ever planned. We fastened ourselves into this world real tight.

That same old stubbornness in me kept me climbing, digging, seeking, working, running. Every once in a while, I'd look over my shoulder and realize home was no longer in sight. When I'd see just how far I had wandered, it would leave me spiraling. So, I'd come up with a new plan to make it back to where I started - safe in the arms of God, living by His life, fulfilling His plans instead of mine - one day. If I could just work a little harder, study a little more, get another degree, serve another group, spend a season over here... then, "One day, God, I'll be free enough to do what I know it is you want me to do. Right now, though. I'm here and I have to make it in this world."

Sound familiar?

Ever done that?

Ever tried to make your own way, only to find your way got you ten kinds of lost instead? Talk about being too stubborn to stop and ask for directions! You know the way home. What you also know is it's going to either a) take a seriously long time to get there or b) make you cross some bridges you vowed to never cross again.  Surely, there's some other way. You keep going, thinking you're going to find some magical way to arrive at the destination you're moving away from.

Much to my dismay, I turned thirty-five today.

One of my friends I grew up with is barely older than me and when her birthday rolled around, I mentioned her age on her social media, saying I hoped __ would be the best year yet. She quickly reminded me we never tell the number! My head was spinning. Wait a minute. That's what my mom's friends say. That's what old ladies do. We are young. We aren't so old we have to lie about it yet, are we??

Maybe so.

All I know is I woke up this year and realized I'm not going to live forever and no matter how stubborn I am, there are some ships that have already sailed for this girl. I really can't be whatever I want when I grow up. I have one life and it is a vapor that is passing fast. The weight of knowing if my life ended, I would face a God who had made it abundantly clear what He alone had gifted me to do and I had flat refused to trust Him enough to do it finally got heavy enough - His Word got loud enough - that I put my shovel down and stopped digging.

Dirty-faced, tired, and far from home, this prodigal turned toward home.

"And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, "Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate."
Luke 15:20-24

Very few set out with the intention of getting lost. The prodigal son mentioned above had received an early inheritance and undoubtedly left home with illusions of grandeur
. Instead, he squandered all he had, living recklessly. It happened fast. I wonder if he thought he had "all kinds of time" to figure out how to live this new luxurious life, then to regain the wealth he'd lost, then to find a new way to live... before he realized all he had to do was go home to his father who had loved him all along. The prodigal never stopped first being a son and he was never not loved or provided for. He just lost his way.

Friend, what are you running from? How are you spending your days? Who have you hired yourself out to? Are you longing just to be as fulfilled as the swine that surround you? Have you forgotten who you are? Who you belong to? How to get back home? 

The enemy tells you to keep going - faster and faster until your feet cannot keep up. He loves to keep you distracted from the reality that the days of your life are flying off the calendar. He's convinced you the place where you are standing is where you're sentenced to spend all your life, that there's nothing better to strive toward. You fill yourself with what cannot last because you are starving to death apart from Jesus. He alone is the way, the Truth, and the Life. All throughout Scripture, the Father has been so devoted, so intense about pursuing His children, first threatening disaster, then promising to relent if only they will turn their faces back toward Him. He longs to run to us, to cover our filthy bodies with his best robe, to celebrate with us. He'll stop at nothing to restore us as sons, to make us forget we ever left His arms, ever stopped living by His life.

The story of the prodigal is not for the unbeliever alone. The story is for the girls like me who never stopped loving Jesus, never stopped praising Him and trusting Him with our days, but somehow lost sight of all He wanted to do with and through our lives. He has come that we may have abundant life and we are settling for slop. When the enemy tells us we have all kinds of time to find our way back home one day, all we have to do is stop. 

Our Father will do the running.

Now is the time.


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