“And when he came to himself . . .” These six words might be the most important words in the world. They come from Jesus’ story of the prodigal son, recounted in Luke 15 (King James Version). The young man decides he doesn’t want to be who he’d started out to be . . . a good boy walking the straight and narrow, a patient participant in his family’s life. No, he wants more, and he wants it now! So, he goes to the city and squanders everything. He hits bottom before it comes to him, “This isn’t who I am!” It’s a shocker when he remembers . . . when he wakes up to see that his impulsive, reckless, and unwise behavior is in sharp contrast with who he is. That’s what happens when one “comes to himself.” He wakes up to the fact that his behavior has disconnected him from his beliefs . . . from his true identity.
Listening to Kareem Hunt answer questions about the video of him hitting and kicking a woman in the hallway of his residence, he repeatedly says, “That’s not who I am. That’s not who I was raised to be!” In his confession, Chris Watts, the man who killed his wife and two little girls tells his dad, “That’s not who I am.” Confronted with what they did, both men remember who they are (or were).
It’s interesting that when the prodigal son goes home, his dad gives him shoes, a robe, a ring, and a party. His father is reminding him of his identity . . . that he is still his son. That he is still a member of the family. That he belongs.
What has to happen for a man to “come to himself?” To “come to his senses?” Most often, it takes an external disruption to bring about internal reflection. My friend John says, “We change more when we feel the heat than when we see the light.”
But not always.
The Holy Spirit can use a Christmas carol, the sparkling eyes of a toddler, a warm hug from a wife or a kid, a glance back to a family album or a picture of the ‘way it used to be.’ Suddenly there’s this sense of conviction. A deep moving inside that says “Remember?” “Remember who you were back then?” “You are still my son.” “Come home.” “I’m waiting for you.”
Is it time to come to yourself?
Scripture: But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:22-24)