On the Road – What God cares more about
Think of the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. Imagine there are three points in the story – The Father’s house, the pigsty and the road in between the two.
At one point, the son is in the pigsty, far from his father’s house, and at another point he is closer to his father, on the road.
Which of these two is a better place for him to be, do you think?
“On the road” you might say, because the closer you are to the father’s house the better.
Well, it would be understandable to think that, but you must consider this most important question… Which way is the son facing?
You see, at one point of the parable he was on the road, quite close to his father’s house, but he was walking away from the father. Being close to the father was no help to him because his direction was leading him further and further away.
But in that moment in the pigsty, when he came to his senses and turned back to begin his journey back home, he was in a much better position. He had repented. His direction was set and even though he was far from the father’s house, bankrupt, hungry and covered in mud, he was better off than that point on the road when he was facing away from his father.
Jesus uses this story as an analogy to the moment when someone turns in repentance back to God and he says, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
There are many stories throughout the gospels where Jesus makes the point that the most important thing to God is not your position (how “good” or “close” you are to God), but your direction (which way you are facing and the direction you are travelling in). He often challenged the outwardly “good” religious leaders of his day about how God was actually more pleased with “bad” people who had turned to God in repentance. He’d say things like, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” (Matthew 21:31-32)
It’s not that God doesn’t care about how godly we are. It’s not that he doesn’t care about whether we lead a sinful or a holy life. It’s just that he cares about our DIRECTION more.
If you didn’t know, I run a little ministry called Elephant Room, where I have the privilege of supporting Christian guys as they journey out of an addiction to porn. The truth that God cares more about the direction they are travelling than exactly how much progress they have made, is a great encouragement to them. They can feel so overwhelmed by their failures and so far from where they know they should be as a Christian. It is important for them to be reminded that every time they repent, all of heaven throws a party! Every little step walking in the right direction is worth it, no matter how far the journey seems and no matter how small the step. God is glorified greatly by us facing the right direction. As King David wrote as he repented over his own sexual sin: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
Back in 2007, I came to learn this great truth on my own road out of an addiction to porn. To express it, I wrote a song called, “The Road”, which has these words in its first verse:
“When I wonder whether I am travelling fast enough I just remember, I am on the road.
Cos speed is not the key to be freed, the priority’s the direction that you go, there on the road.
I might fall and I might stumble, but I am on the road.
And my hope it won’t crumble, if I am on the road.”