In Luke chapter 15 Jesus tells a series of parables. The first is the story of a lost sheep and a searching shepherd. The second is about a lost coin and a searching woman. The third is about a man with two sons, and one of them leaves home.
You might know the story well, but if not let me give you a quick recap. A father had two boys. One of them asks for his inheritance, and unbelievably the father gives it to him. He then sets out for a distant country where he loses all his money. Soon he finds himself working for a farmer feeding pigs. Traditionally we call it the story of the prodigal son. The name is focused on the one son’s reckless spending of his money.
It is the story of a life filled with possibility and a grand future that takes a wrong turn. The boy who was once spoken of as being full of potential is now the lowest of farm hands. I am sure his father was hurt by his son’s behavior as he moves from a life full of promise to disappointment.
Then comes one of the most powerful lines in the Bible. I have thought about this one line of scripture more than any other. It deeply touches me with its mysterious application.
Luke 15:17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” (New International Version)
“When he came to his senses …”
What an intriguing line. It implies that there is a point in a person’s life where they wake up to the mess things have become. There is a point at which someone’s right mind is restored, and their thinking becomes clear. There is a moment in the lives of people where they see their failure and their need to change.
In my think about this verse, I have wondered. How do you get someone to come to their senses? Is there anything we can do to help it happen? How do I get people to wake up to the mess they are making of their lives and the lives of those around them? How does someone “come to their senses?” Do we have to patiently wait until they get there on their own?
The harsh reality is that there are people I love who are making poor decisions. Their journey is leading them away from God. I see it. Other people see it. For some reason that cannot see the danger that lies ahead. I desperately want them to come to their senses before it is too late.
I wish I had answers for my questions, but after years of thinking and discussing this idea, I have no more insight. I have simply added a new line to my prayers. “God, help them to come to their senses,” seems like the best thing I can ask God to do. I pray that God will use whatever means necessary to change their hearts and minds and send them searching for him. Unfortunately, that may mean they need to hit rock bottom.
I am glad that God has brought me to my senses a couple of times in my life. I keep praying he will do the same work for other people, especially those I love. Maybe you feel the same way about someone in your life. I pray he does the same for them.