I love stories that are reflections of the ultimate Story—the story that God welcomes sinners to Himself. One of the most popular stories that Jesus told is the story commonly referred to as the story of the prodigal son. Most of us can identify with the story because we see in ourselves the proclivity to run away from our good and gracious heavenly Father. And whether it’s something that happened in our past or something we’re going through now, almost every Christian has experienced deep brokenness and needed God’s restoring love.
Throughout the CSB Restoration Bible there are stories of hope and healing, which remind us that God is actively pursuing and actively restoring now. Stories of how God is still drawing people back to himself. I enjoyed reading Collin’s story and think you will as well. Here it is:
When I read the parable of the Prodigal Son, I find many of the details eerily similar to my experience with some important differences. I am a younger brother, and I had not only a loving father but also a loving mother. And I grew up learning all about my loving heavenly Father. At moments, I understood God did love me, but I also lived with a restless spirit. Beyond my family there were hurts, betrayals, and bullying that left me angry.
By the time I finished high school, I was ready to leave home. I chose a college far from my family, packed my belongings, and embarked on my adventure. I didn’t ask my father for my share of the inheritance—it wasn’t an option. I did carry a rich legacy of family values with me that I didn’t consider worth much at the time. But I departed with my parents’ blessing to attend a school that promised to encourage my faith and train me for a productive life. Unfortunately, I was less interested in either of those pursuits than I was in the lack of restraints and my apparent newfound freedom.
I quickly developed friendships beyond my Christian campus community that ushered me into a lifestyle that was at first intoxicating and then completely controlling. I dropped out of college and quickly discovered the limited work options open to me. I was living with my girlfriend in what I can now see was a mutually dependent, extremely unhealthy relationship. Menial work got me into a job in a trucking company that put my natural engineering skills to work. But gradually I felt I was settling for a life without purpose or direction. I was aware that I was stuck in a destructive relationship with no hope of improvement. Several times I phoned home and expressed a desire to return, which was met with eager encouragement. But I couldn’t break away. God had to intervene, and he did.
Restoration began on my radio at work. I started listening to a wise woman giving practical, hard-nosed responses to questions about life. She frequently credited the Bible as the source of her wisdom. She sounded like home. She pointed to a life that was familiar to me but no longer my life. I now realized I was going to have to go back in order to move forward. Meanwhile, the gradual changes in me provoked resistance from my girlfriend and friends. They instinctively resented my expressions of almost-forgotten values. They didn’t like the new me. I knew I couldn’t stay.
One day I gave my work notice, packed a small rental truck with two years of accumulated stuff, and headed home. My surprise return was prevented when the truck broke down and I had to phone for help. My father’s warm response and encouragement helped solve the mechanical issue but also assured me of a welcome waiting. I pulled in the driveway, sat in the vehicle, and wept. Before Mom and Dad noticed and rushed out tearfully to embrace me, I had a moment to sense that God had allowed me a fresh start I didn’t want to squander.
I quietly murmured, “Thanks, Lord, for bringing me home.”