A few months ago my Pastor asked me to start reading a book called Prodigal God by Tim Keller. This book gets into the nitty gritty of Jesus' parable of the prodigal son and takes a closer look at the elder brother in the story. Keller suggests that the parable could even be retitled "The Story of Two Sons" because its lesson can be extracted from looking at the older brother's subtle rebellion as much as we learn from the younger son's more obvious rebellion.
The real knockout epiphany in the book exposes the common reality of how a son can be far away from the Father even if he's still living in the Father's house. Many well-behaved Christians have been quite convicted by this thought that they could've been doing all the right things and positioning themselves in all the right places, but still missing the point, which is to KNOW the Father.
So I read the book, identified myself as being a kind of hybrid younger/elder brother, evident in my shifting phases between wild living and self-righteous piety, and was inspired to stop being so egocentric and simply pursue the Father's heart. That was about a month ago.
Now I'm in Santa Cruz, at a Christian camp called Mt. Hermon, nestled in a redwood forest. I was summoned here to play drums for a week at one of their family camps. I didn't know who would be speaking here, but I'm excited to know that a Presbyterian minister named M. Craig Barnes will be teaching all week. Tonight was the first night of his sharing and he's teaching from Luke 15 on the parable of the prodigal son with a more in depth look at the elder brother in the story.
Now it's interesting that life should bring this piece of scripture and this specific perspective on this scripture into my life again. It's interesting that life has brought me here at all. I could just think that this is some sort of coincidence. I could just chalk this all up to Keller's having written a really popular book and Barnes' having picked up on its extremely relevant message. I could shake it off as coincidence and move on with my life, but I am not going to do that.
Free will has given me the choice to call interestingly familiar life circumstances coincidence OR as divine interference. Interference sounds negative, like passing interference in football, but I mean it in a good way because God interferes mercifully. Sometimes God disrupts my life rhythm with double-takes, serendipitous moments, and lessons repeated until I've understood them completely.
Life's raining coincidences right now and I'm going to call it how I think it really is, which involves no coincidence at all, but rather divine interference from a loving, merciful and ever-pursuing Father.
It'll be fun to see where all this ends up.