The old story factored relevant, as pig pens are pig pens no matter how a person gets there. I certainly found myself in the same disgusting state as the wayward son, barely surviving with only scraps of nourishment fit for swine. The thing that I and the prodigal shared was the ineptness that took us into our groveling conditions but also the ham-fisted incompetence toward getting out.
For the out of control youth, the face in slop was preceded by the low-paying hog-feeding job, and prior to that was a kind of hysteria. Yes, the Bible teaches that the boy’s waste of substance with riotous living caused an emotional trauma for him. His unfortified ability to control things was lost and the bottom was dropping out of his big strategy. In his soul’s lowest of the low, nothing of his self-made mess was faceable for him now.
For me, the underside was gotten to through a similar kind of bottoming-out hysteria. Mine was akin to an emotional pendulum swing, wearing and tearing at my feeling’s safety boundaries. These breaking borders had kept the swerve to a certain intensity, speed, and volume. Now, the restrictions were failing.
Forging out a last ditch effort for survival, I tried to run; I mean by changing locations in the physical sense. My destiny was not however for me to escape that way yet, but instead, to go lower. So, me and the wasteful, reckless, extravagant, profligate child-prodigal share skid row together now; the ditch of horror, the hope to die; both of us have had every craving for continued-existence sucked dry.
Let’s hang out here for a moment, and try to imagine what this state of pitiful fainting feels like. Energy is strangely missing, effort similarly non-existent. Something however is in the works –- as described in the Bible; a “coming to self?”
Well then, what consists this “coming to self” and what thoughts give it tangibility? “Nobody is helping me, not friends, not family, not God.” In the pen, I bewailed my plight as I’m certain the son did the same. “I have lain here nigh on starving for many hours and days.” “Only one thing remains – I must deliver myself or perish.” “I must get up on my feet and use my God-given volition to make a plan,”— a coming to self?
A simple story goes; “We know what it is to get out of bed on a freezing morning in a room without fire, and how the very vital principle within us protects against the ordeal. (The scene is New England before the advent of central heating). Probably most persons have lain on certain mornings for an hour at a time unable to brace themselves to the resolve. We think how late we shall be, how the duties of the day will suffer; we say ‘I must get up; this is ignominious, and so on.’ But still the warm couch feels too delicious, and the cold outside too cruel and resolution fades away and postpones itself again and again just as it seemed on the verge of the decisive act. Now how do we ever get up under such circumstances?”
The narrative continues, “If I may generalize from my own experience, we more often than not get up without any struggle or decision at all. We suddenly find that we have got up. A fortunate lapse of consciousness occurs; we forget both the warmth and the cold; we fall into some reverie connected with the day’s life, in the course of which the idea flashes across us, ‘Hollo! I must lie here no longer’ – an idea which at that lucky instant awakens no contradictory or paralyzing suggestions, and consequently produces immediately it’s appropriate motor effects. It was our acute consciousness of both the warmth and the cold during the period of struggle which paralyzed our activity.”
Having read James’ picture of indecision and answer for it, we find a possible key? William James, psychologist, we read with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, the conflict between moving versus waiting for another thing to happen; want of warmth and cold simultaneously, can surely hold us frozen. But, regardless the back and forth, the double-mindedness; in spite of a moment of “yes” followed by a moment of “no,” and so on — many times, the famished profligate youth got up; and so did I. It was not a chance happening as James suggests, but a decision, however weak.
An amazing thing then took place. A plan to return home turned into a cue for Father to run to meet his son. Why not before? Could it be that Father knew how futile it would have been if the son was not wanting it — not wanting to return but to maintain the original plan to flee home and Father forever? O this is amazing; Father seemed to wait for me in a similar way! When I moved in the direction of wanting help, using my free volition to revive myself mentally and proceed toward self deliverance, Father also ran to me, but not before.
I was not aware that Father was even watching. I didn’t sense a way to activate His love, to solicit His involvement. It seems He was waiting for me, for my will, to comply by simply cooperating with His exit strategy, which was coincidentally my strategy. I had no inkling that I was making myself a moving boat for Him to rudder and guide. And so, the stray teenager must alone decide to return home; the rebellion ceases, the confusion dies, and the big important “cause” has been defeated. My well of depression ended too.
I hope I explained the connection well enough for the reader to grasp its meaning. Frankly, God taught me that to make my life work as a believer I must not walk ahead, not behind, but in synchronized movement with Him. Well, I often wondered, who goes first? Honestly, I mostly initiate the movement, and this was a shocking revelation; discovering a scoop on faith and healing. My will is a trigger, a starter switch, and to borrow a thought from a friend, the elevator button to the door of soul elevation to upper levels.
In closing, to wait on the Lord is to “collect.” Yes, thoughts and feelings get girded up, we pull ourselves together Mon. To be of good courage means to “seize upon.” I’m ready to grab, to receive, to be sober and hope to the end for the grace to be brought to me at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is my move, my part. Then comes the strengthening, or God’s confirming of Himself in the heart, enabling confidence and movement.