This last week, my wife and I went to Sea World Orlando. I have never been, and Jodi hasn’t been since she was four years old, so we were both looking forward to it. The shows were fascinating (I found it interesting that by going to some of the same shows the following day one could see what went wrong in the first day [or the second!]), and the few rides they had were a lot of fun. Jodi even found herself trying to teach passerby kids and adults about a puffer fish we saw hiding in the corner. “Look, dear, this nice lady found a fish for you to look at!”
One of the last rides we went on had a line stretching back to nearly the beginning. A nice lady and (presumably) her little daughter were waiting in line just in front of it. At some point near the ride’s loading point, the line split into those who wished to join the front row only, and the other three rows (our line). Despite the fact there seemed to be no one in the front row line (we could only see until the “line” went around the next corner), we elected to stay in our line. The reasoning was simple: for every one group of four that moved in the “front” line, three groups of four moved in ours. We would be sure to catch them.
Nonetheless, the woman and her child ahead of us started to go to the front line. For a moment all looked well. They turned the corner and were out of sight, presumably moving oh-so-close to the fun of the ride. A few minutes later, however, we turned the corner and saw the sight: there were at least 10-12 groups of four ahead of our friends in the other line, while we had merely three or four turns before we would be riding.
As she turned to look at us, she knew she had made a mistake. She had it written all over her face. I gestured in front of me, where I had left a two-person gap. “Would you like to come back?” I said with a (non-condescending) smile. She laughed and said yes. My pastor, Tom Messer, has taught me to pray to see everyday life events as illustrations. I rarely do. But this time, it was as though God brought to mind the idea of the prodigal son, and repentance.
We see our own way (even after salvation sometimes!) to the payoff, and it seems pointless and hard to do it God’s way. After all, if only God would let our lives be in our hands things would be so much better. At least it looks that way. When we realize what a mistake we’ve made, what a mess we have made of our lives, it is then we look at God. We find out he’s been knowingly watching the whole time, and he lovingly gestures toward the right path; it is the path of restoration of fellowship (relationship) and reconciliation with God (salvation). “Do you want to come back?” Well, do you?--------------------------------------------------
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