Have you ever felt like you’ve been sleep-walking through life, either just allowing things to happen to you or following a path that just seems like the right thing to do because well, hey, that’s what you do?
I’ve been in a very reflective mood this season, even more than usual and yesterday I came across some notes I had written a little while back in my journal around the story of The Prodigal Son. Romans 13:11 tells us that we can be awake but sleep-walking through life, it calls it a hypnotic sleep and we are invited to wake up and rise out of that state.
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already time for you to awaken (awake, arouse, rise up) out of sleep (hypnotic sleep, spiritual sleep), for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first believed.Romans 13:11
Living in the world can blind our spiritual senses, it can also blind us to the Truth of our own existence and The Prodigal Son is a good reminder of this.
The prodigal son, let’s call him Sam was the youngest out of two boys, Luke 15:29 gives the impression that out of these two young men Sam was the wild child always looking to the future and his own needs and this was what ultimately led him to take off and leave home.
It’s when Sam goes on his journeying and does all the things that he thinks he wants to do and is supposed to do and realises how empty it all is when the Word says that “he comes back to himself” (Luke 15: 17). What a strange way of saying it! Was he not himself before?
But having come to himself, he was saying, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have abundance of bread, but here I am perishing with hunger?Luke 15:17
It seems that Sam had an epiphany, he thought that he had been going in the right direction and taking ownership of his life but really he had been going totally the wrong way. Have you ever felt like that, I know I have? It often takes a wake-up call, like the one Sam had and then I realise that it was another part of me that had been making the decisions and running the show and not the God-part of me.
So here’s Sam, the prodigal son who just realised that he had sleep-walked right through spending all his father’s goods and basically not done right by God, his father or himself and he realises something. “I must arise and return home!”
Who must arise? One of the sad truths of life is that many of us walk around with an inferiority complex, the idea that we are not good enough and that we have to prove our worth this over-preoccupation with our own inadequacies makes us spiritually drowsy whilst giving the carnal side of us permission to take over. Unfortunately, we live from this place of inadequacy as if it’s truth it’s not God’s Truth but the “truth” that the world through experiences has planted within us.
And I know as Christians we hear people talking about knowing who your identity is in Christ and being the Daughter of the King yada yada yada, I’ve heard it all before until it’s just become words that people say without much substance. Whilst it may be true, it’s one thing to know it in your head but to feel it in your heart and live it out in your life, that’s the real issue and I feel this conundrum in the story of the prodigal son.
Sam had lived in what I’m guessing was quite a wealthy household, yes he had to go and work out in the fields with his dad and big bro but he was also surrounded by servants who had enough to eat all the time. The issue was Sam’s perception of his reality and where he fitted in vs the Truth of his situation. It took him journeying away from his father’s house and trying to do a better job by himself to bring him to his senses, he had an awakening where he realised what he had and who he really was.
The prodigal son who arose to return home with a contrite heart was not the son who had left home, one Sam had to be brought low so the other Sam could arise. Isn’t that what we do when we die to the flesh? We say less of what is not True, what is not Eternal and what is not of God and more of what is! Sam had to let go of the old version of himself that had been led by faulty beliefs and insecurities and arise into the version of himself aligned with the father’s truth.
I will arise (get up) and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.Luke 15:18
There are 3 parts of this returning home journey which are important.
ONE: Awakening which I have touched upon already – awakening to the truth and letting go of the old self-sufficient led by inferiority complex ways.
TWO: Repentance – this is so much more than saying sorry or having a change of heart or mind, in Hebraic tradition repentance is called Teshuvah which basically means returning. It’s a beautiful image of realising that you are going down the wrong path and turning around to return back to the path that leads back to the Father and Home.
THREE: It’s repentance that the most powerful and beautiful work in my opinion that leads to ARISING. When we repent, we kill the carnal part of us that has been leading us away and we allow the God-part of us to arise so that we can be led home a much better and Christ-like version, or should I say more of who we really are, who God created us as.
We all seem to be striving and yearning for something, sometimes it feels more tangible than others – for Sam he thought that what he wanted was somewhere out there until he realised that it wasn’t. In truth, it wasn’t his outside circumstances that had changed but his inner consciousness had awoken and he could operate from that place.
Maybe there’s been something you’ve been hungering for, and you’ve tried in your own ways, knowledge and strength to achieve that end only to end up even more miserable than when you started out! But doesn’t God’s Word says that he wants to give us the desires of our heart? Maybe a better question is to discover what exactly it is that you really desire and who desires it, is is the asleep or the awoken version of you?
I’m sure Sam thought he knew what he wanted until he didn’t, sometimes we can only discover what we truly want when we are who we truly are.
Food for thought huh?
If I had to choose one way to live through life, I would definitely want to live it in full capacity of my senses, being awake, conscious and aware rather than dulled by the weariness of life.
Finally, the words of Sam’s father ring out a deeper truth of being lost without even realising it and being dead without even knowing it. From the surface, his dad was glad that his child was back home and alive but from a spiritual perspective, the Son that came back was in many ways more different than the one who had lived with him all those years and that’s why I believe he was really given that cool ring, glitzy robe and awesome party by his dad.
How I’m taking this
At the start, I said that I’ve been pretty reflective – I’m seeing this call to wake-up and really question my actions and decisions. Really question my direction and desires and I realise that actually I get what I really want when I’m back home with God and not out in the wild by myself.
Do you need help navigating this?
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