When Only A Miracle Will Do
For nearly 10 years I served inmates in our small rural county
jail as a minister, and saw over 100 of them come through our
Bible studies and annual Christmas outreaches. They were there
because of drugs, alcohol, theft, sexual violations and more. Men
and women. Young and old. While they sat with me in their white
and orange jail issued clothes, I would often say, “When you were
young and thought about the future, none of you set out to be in
jail. You are here because something went wrong.”
Have you ever known someone, where at some point, something went
terribly wrong and one bad decision seemed to pile on another?
And maybe you thought, “If they continue down this path, outside
of a miracle of God, they are going to wind up in either jail, the
hospital, on the street or dead?
Jesus told a story about a young man like this. One day he came
to his father in a spirit of anger and hate and demanded his
inheritance while his father still lived. His dad amazingly and
graciously complied and gave his younger son what he wanted. Then
his son packed up his belongings and abruptly left home and
family. He travelled far away to a large and bustling city, where
bad decisions began to mount. Jesus said he, “squandered his
property in reckless living” (Luke 15:13) and eventually he spent
everything he had been given. And things got worse when a famine
hit the region. He became penniless, friendless, jobless,
foodless and homeless. At this point in his life, his dad
described him dead and lost. Something had gone wrong and he was
speeding head-first down a path of destruction and ruin. His only
hope was a miracle.
And that is what began to happen! God’s invisible hand was
mysteriously working on the young man’s heart, where in a moment
of wise reflection he said to himself, “How many of my father’s
hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with
hunger!” (Luke 15:17) This led to a key turning point where he
stood up and began a long and discouraging walk back home.
While still a long way out, his father saw him and immediately
ran to meet him. After the father’s compassionate embrace, his
son began his humble confession, “Father, I have sinned against
heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your
son” (Luke 15:21). Wow! That was all his dad needed to hear,
when he said, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he
was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate (Luke
That miracle caused the young man’s life to go from death to life
and ruin to overflowing joy. What everyone else thought was
impossible; God knew was possible.
This is what Jesus was sent from heaven to earth for. This is why
he died and rose again. To do miracles just like this. When
people are living for themselves and leaving a wake of heartache
and pain wherever they go, it is easy to get frustrated and angry
with them, to look down at them and write them off. But God is
merciful and patient. He does not treat any of us as we deserve.
Instead, in His kindness, He keeps drawing us to Himself until we
humble ourselves and surrender all to Him.
A prayer for you - “Lord God, I pray for those who are living
destructive lives. God, you are their only hope. Intervene, I
pray. Save their physical lives and their eternal souls from
destruction. Open their spiritual eyes to see the danger they are
facing, then mercifully bring them to repentance that they might
live again. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”