I woke up the other morning thinking about Brennan Manning and a teaching he gave once that centered around the story of the prodigal son. He invited us beyond giving mental assent to the passage and into a "stepping into the story" moment. Because I tend to be more visual with an active imagination, it was a meaningful exercise for me, and it has continued to unlock my experience with the Trinity. So very thankful...from mind to heart.
So...what's the exercise? :)
Before we begin, here are some pre-exercise thoughts and tips. First, for way too long the church has discounted the many ways we learn and interact with the truth around us. Perhaps from ignorance or even control, we've limited ourselves to the "read it and think about it" approach. This approach DOES work (more for some than others), so we don't want to discount it. A good discipline. However, we have so many more tools in our belt...so many ways of wiring. This realization has liberated the educational world as well. We aren't just auditory learners. We are visual, kinesthetic, musical, natural, spatial, imaginative...and while some traditionalists will bite my head off...God interacts with us in those avenues as much as the way it's always been done. So...honor your design and interact with God in it! Second, no pressure! Sometimes this exercise is just a simple devotional, and there's nothing wrong with that. If so, keep with it. You'll find there are occasions where it is more experiential than others. Third, don't go too quickly! Some places will seem to invite you to stay. Do so! Fourth, God might give you a moment that's not "biblically-bound" with Him. He's not found solely within the covers of the good book. You might find there's a song singing in your heart...sing or play along!! You might have a picture of something in your mind...draw it! You might have a desire to sleep or build or move or journal...Do it! He is "God with Us" in that moment.
OK...here goes. :)
Pray before you begin. Ask God to share this moment with you. In fact, give the moment to Him. Ask Him to help you hear only what comes from His heart. Renounce anything inconsistent with truth. (God doesn't speak "shame"!!!) Read through the prodigal son story (or other passage for another time). Put your Bible down, and sit back and relax. Picture the story unfolding with YOU being the prodigal (ask the Father for your inheritance, leave for the far away land and squander it, find yourself impoverished in the pig pen wrestling with coming home, make the journey back with the weight of the past heavy on your heart, stop at the bottom of the driveway and look up at the house, see the Father seeing you, see Him coming your way, be embraced and blessed by Him..). Pay attention to the details in your story...the things you are seeing, what you are feeling...focus on the Father's face. Allow yourself to "let the story go"...let it play out...let it "color outside the lines". Does the Father say anything unique to you, ask you anything, give or take anything...? It may become very specific to you.
Enjoy...repeat...and take it to other passages. :)
We often don't realize two things. Thanks to some of the limitations of the English language, our picture of the Father meeting the son on the road can be less than it really was. The fullness of the words say this..."and the Father embraced him and kissed him and couldn't stop kissing him". Nothing stoic in this scene...wonderful!! The other important realization...perhaps most important for our faith is that "home" in this story isn't simply the Father's farm property. The older son was living with the Father and doing everything "right", but he was absolutely NOT experiencing "home". (Boy, is that a sad picture of those lost in religion or what??) No...right at the point of the Father's embrace...THAT was "home". And that's the life we are called to...living in the embrace...living from the embrace. So...it's so good to spend some time right there. Certainly, the Father would like that too! :) Start every day in the embrace...come back to it throughout the day...end the day there. The position of the heart...critical!!!
Below are some "additionals" that have helped me along the way too. :)
The Father RUNNING!!
Meeting Father on the road.