You are Always with Me, and All I Have is Yours
by Steve Wiens
I want you to think about that situation right now that has beaten you senseless and knocked you down. You can’t imagine how things will ever get better. It might be a toxic conflict, an empty womb, a dead end job, or a terrifying diagnosis. You’ve tried everything and nothing has moved, not even an inch.
Try to locate where it has burrowed itself inside your body. Is it in your shoulders, which have become boulders of tension? Is it in your gut, in that sick wave of dread that greets you just after you wake up each morning? Or is it in your chest, your heart hammering with anxiety, racing to outrun the fear?
The writer of Genesis used the Hebrew phrase tohu va vohu to describe those dark and confusing times, those chaotic places that feel so empty. The earth was tohu va vohu before it was formed and full of life, at the beginning of all things.
You are in a tohu va vohu place, and you need help. You need a new beginning.
What if God really is able to give you gift after gift (that’s what grace means), so that you can live your actual life with nothing missing? In one of the most famous parables of Jesus, a reckless younger brother cuts all ties with his family, takes his inheritance and squanders it all. His heartsick father lets him go. His responsible older brother just gets up the next morning and keeps working.
Then one day a dust cloud appears on the horizon. It is the younger brother, ragged and broken. The father throws a robe around him, covering his shame, and puts a ring on his finger, a public declaration of his status as a son, not a slave. A lavish, impromptu feast is prepared, and the whole village is invited. And that younger son just takes it all in, and weeps.
The older brother stands off in the distance, unwilling to go in. His father sees his jaw clenching and unclenching in the twilight, and waits to speak until his responsible son finally breaks wide open, and when he does, the only words he finds are laced with duty, blame, anger and frustration.
“But son,” the kind father says, “you are always with me, and all I have is yours.”
The buried treasure in this parable is that the rich father is able to give gift after gift to both of his sons, to lavish them with his presence and his resources. The parable ends with us wondering whether or not the responsible son will receive it.
“You are always with me,” God is whispering to you, in your tohu va vohu. “And all I have is yours.”
What would it mean for you to learn to receive that kind of gift and walk into the new beginning that it created?
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