Sometimes we can find ourselves stuck between our past & our new life in Christ. Not entirely where we used to be but still not where we need to be with God. Something I've learnt is that when you repent after a period of walking in disobedience & rebellion, you have to surrender the issues of your heart that caused you to backslide in the first place. You have to surrender to a process of being healed & restored, and also of being proved as a true son of God.
We can find a few reasons why this process is necessary in the story of the lost son in Luke 15;
1) He didn't come back with a completely transformed heart.
He wasn't thinking 'I love/miss my Father & he must miss me, let me go home', he was thinking about his survival! Verse 17 reads, "...How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!" He realised that there was provision enough in his father's house & so he returned. Just like the prodigal son, we can repent when the consequences of our sin & mess becomes too much to bear, bringing us to remember that there is protection, provision & healing in our Father's house. We return to Him as we realise our need for Him, but our innermost desires & motives have yet to be changed.
2) He was willing to live below his identity.
Verse 19, "...I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."
A son has access to his father in a way that servants don't. Servants are not intimate friends with their master, they don't have the same rights & privileges, and they don't share in a son's inheritance. The call of God over all of our lives is to become mature sons, intimate friends whom He can trust with His authority. The prodigal son was willing to live without this kind of relationship with his father because he felt unworthy, but we must move beyond the shame & condemnation that so often keeps us serving God outwardly but not drawing near to Him in our hearts. When we choose to live in our identity in Christ, we find our true inheritance- the righteousness of Christ, the assurance of God's Love for us, the reward of eternal life (knowing the Father & Son) and all the promises of God etc.
3) Living below his identity would have led to him becoming like his brother.
The brother who stayed at home had issues with his father too, somehow. He worked hard for his father's approval & recognition not realising that he was already loved. Verse 29 reads, "...Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends." This shows us that though he was obedient, he was looking for what he could get from his father. However when we look at the life of Jesus our model, His obedience was all about what He could give to His Father.
The place we must grow to is where our obedience is motivated by love.
So we can see there is more to restoration than coming home. We can see there is more to repentance than running back into the safety of God's Will. Abba wants us to come to a place where our obedience is motivated by love and not fear or approval seeking. Where we love what He loves & hate what He hates. He wants our hearts to be made whole and filled with His desires for us. He wants us to discover the joy of knowing Him intimately and go from being prodigal sons to tried & true sons. Though the journey home is a difficult one, we simply cannot stop there. So, are you willing to be made free & whole?