Andy the Pig lives in my barn's back stall. For now, that's his pigpen.
The stall was empty for months, so the ground was packed as hard as rock when he first arrived. Andy has rooted out a furrow of dirt to lie down in because that's what pigs in pigpens want to do. They make themselves comfortable in the dirt.
There's actually nothing "wrong" with the place where Andy lives. It's designed to be a horse stall. A wonderful horse lives there in the winter. It's clean and lined with shavings. A mound of sweet-smelling hay rests in the rack. When Belle, my registered quarter horse, is in residence, that little bit of barn is a beautiful place.
With Andy, it's not quite so beautiful. The ground is rooted and there's a mud puddle by the waterer. It has a new fragrance now, too. The odor of pig.
It's not the location that makes it a pigpen. It's the pig inside.
The same holds true for the metaphorical pigpen in which we find ourselves. It's not the location that makes it a pigpen to which we, as prodigals run. It's the piggy-heart in us.
When the prodigal in Jesus' story arrived in the literal pigpen, it was easy to see how far he'd fallen. What we don't always recognize is that he was in a pigpen all along. The uncleanness of rebellion in him made everywhere he went a kind of pigpen, because he took his sin with him.
When he was standing outside his father's house, his rebellion made that dusty lane a kind of pigpen, a home for sin. That sin couldn't co-exist with His Father, so the prodigal took it to the finest places in the far country. Nice restaurants. Fancy dress-up parties. Prince's palaces. Anywhere he went, he took his piggy-heart with him.
When we see someone who has made terrible life-choices and ended up in a place of devastating loss, we can see they've suffered consequences. They're in a kind of pigpen where, we hope, they can come to their senses.
When we make choices that don't necessarily lead to a place of devastating loss, we can look less "pig-hearted" to ourselves and to others. Beautiful homes, nice restaurants, and big bank accounts don't look much like pigpens, but they can be. It all depends on the pig-heartedness within us.
Are those homes and bank accounts a result of rebellion? Have we chosen a plethora of "good" activities instead of doing the one thing God has called us to do? Have we ensconced ourselves in beauty and left our neighbor to fend for himself? Are we following our own way instead of God's?
Friends, pig-hearted choices always turn our surroundings into pigpens, where we root around until we make ourselves at home there.
When the pigpen becomes a comfortable place, we can stay there far too long. No matter where we find ourselves today, let's ask God about our own hearts. In what areas do we have piggy hearts of rebellion? In what areas do we want our own way?
Let's ask God to help us see our hearts, and our "pigpen" as He sees it, then made a new choice.
Come home, much-loved children. Our Father waits at the end of the road.
"So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him..." Luke 15:20 nlt
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Caregiver Chronicles: The Body of Christ at Work
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