(…continued) We can easily see the foolishness of Jimmy in the story. He said he was independent of his parents, and he said he did not need them anymore. But he still sat at their table, ate the food his mother prepared, watched the TV his dad bought, slept in a home provided by his parents, and played with toys his parents gave him. Jimmy fed himself and walked around by himself and thought he was on his own, but it is easy to see the foolishness in that.
It is not so easy to see the foolishness in ourselves when we make the same mistake in regards to our dependence on God. We work hard, we earn our living, we support ourselves, and we’re proud of it. It may look to us like we are on our own. But if we forget God, our pride and independence is just as foolish and unrealistic as Jimmy’s. It is, after all, God who gave us this life in the first place, God who keeps our hearts beating and gives us the air we breath, God who gives the sun and the rain to grow the food we eat. It is ALL from God. To think we support ourselves in this life because we work, is like Jimmy believing he was on his own because he fed himself. How could Jimmy think that as a five year old he could do without his parents. How can any little human being think that they can do without God?
There were times when Jimmy was forced to face the fact that he was not on his own and did need his parents; like the time he cut his knee. He then ran to his mother, knowing he needed her help. Those times come for adults too; times of illness or old age or despair or death when we come to realize that we are not in control, that our lives are not in our own hands, and that we cannot, in the end, control our own destiny. Then, like Jimmy returning to his mother, we may return to God and call upon Him.
I once heard a man speak about his father, a rough and irreverent man, who cared little about God for almost his entire life. He was confident of his ability to handle anything on his own without depending on or praying to some God. “That’s for women,” he always said. The day of reckoning came for him as he lay on a hospital bed in constant pain, his body full of cancer. The man said about his sick father, “For the first time in his life he saw himself as the poor and fragile little soul that he had always been.” His father did then finally turn to the God who had always provided for him. God honors all faith, even the faith of those who turn to him at the very last hour of their lives. But God would rather that we know him and look to him throughout all of our life. Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”
Remember your need of God, remember your dependence on God, and remember your need to keep in touch with God with weekly worship. That is where we acknowledge God and hear his word and return our thanks. When Jimmy started living on his own, he missed out on all the happiness of family life, and that’s not good. Kids are meant to be a part of a family, and we are meant to be in a lifelong relationship with God. To deny God a place in your life is to deny a part of yourself, because you were created for God. Without him, you are left with an emptiness that no one else or nothing else can ever fill. The story of Jimmy is a sad and pathetic story of a boy who tried to break away from his parents because he wanted to gain what he thought was most important; freedom, independence, and something to call his own. But in doing so, he ended up losing everything that is really most important; the caring, sharing, and happiness that comes in being part of a loving family. The Bible tells us that is what happens to a person who ignores God. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when he asked, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”
One more thing from the story. Remember them Jimmy’s mother and father? They loved and cared for Jimmy before he could walk or talk or do anything, all without receiving anything in return. That’s what parents do. Then, even when Jimmy turned away from them, they still loved him and cared for him, just as much as before. The parents could not let him go, and still provided for him even though he ignored them. God’s love is like that. His care and promises do not end right away if we fail to pay attention to him or trust in him. He waits for us, tries to win us back, and is ready to receive us with open arms; that is, if we do not wait too long. We have our entire lifetime to come to him– but not any longer than that. God will not force on us in death a relationship we did not want in this life.
Between us and heaven or hell is only life, which is the frailest thing in the world.
Matthew 5:45b — (Jesus said), “Your Father in heaven… causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Hebrews 9:27-28 — Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Matthew 16:26a — (Jesus said), “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner. Amen.
–The ancient Jesus prayer