This morning, on my morning run with a friend who is faster than me, I was doing fine until I tried to clear some congestion from my throat. Instead, I gagged myself and ended up puking and dry heaving for several minutes, as He slipped completely out of site ahead of me.
I thought to myself, “well that ends my run” — even though I was only halfway into a 1.8 mile run and was at the absolute furthest point possible from getting back home. As I continued wrenching for about 4 minutes, I wondered how long it would take me to get home in this condition, and realized there was no easy way to just call someone to come get me.
Then I remembered a rally cry from Billy Bob on the movie Varsity Blues who cried out, “Puke and rally!”
Now that might seem like an interesting rally cry reference for a Christian message, because for Billy Bob that was a cry for him as he ran back into the party for more alcohol abuse. But I remembered it because in my younger days, puking was more often the result of alcohol abuse and partying than it was from sickness or pushing myself near the limits of exercise, etc.
In this case, I just wanted to make it home, so I started talking steps, then before I knee it, I was back to a fast walking pace, and when I got to that first downhill, I was running again. You see, I didn’t give up. I couldn’t give up. What was my option? To lay down and die in the mix of mud and my own puke? No!
I say this to encourage you today. No matter where you are. No matter what you have gotten yourself into. No matter how far away from home you feel you’ve gone. No matter how far away you feel like you are from God and how hard you think it might be to get back. Puke up that mess that is in your life that isn’t glorifying God. Give it up, it is killing you. Turn back to God. Stay walking home. Just take that first step of submitting yourself to Him. Accept Him not just as a promised Savior, but as a living Lord of your life, and He will come and strengthen you like a good friend and will bring you home.
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. ’
“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” – Luke 15:4-32