JESUS, A RUBBER BOOT AND COFFEE
My husband tells a story. Actually, it's kind of like a story within a story. But not like Inception, because nothing is spinning (that I know of) and we don't need to argue if the wobble means it's a dream. Or whatever.
David loves the story that Jesus tells of the prodigal son. If you're not familiar with it, you can read it here. And he says it reminds him of the time God ran to him.
In the story, the son asks for his entire inheritance so he can go live his dream life. The Father is heartbroken. The son wants his inheritance, something he would have received after the father's death. As in-"Dad, I don't care if you're still alive. I want what's mine, and I want nothing more to do with you."
And so, the father gives his son the cash and lets him go. The son parties it up and spends every cent and finds himself friendless and nasty, sleeping with pigs and starving. He's so hungry he thinks about eating pig food. David used to raise pigs. He says the food comment brings the gross factor to a whole new level. He says that pigs are wicked because they'll eat anything; slop, rotten food, dead chickens. Apparently pig farmers have come up missing and all they find of them is a rubber boot. True story or Benton legend? I have no idea.
The son decides he would be better off as a slave in his father's house than to continue the life he's been living. He starts for home, practicing all the words he will say to convince his father to take him back.
And the next part - I love this - the son is 'still a long way off' and the father catches a glimpse of him. I picture the father here, at the edge of his property, scanning the horizon and thinking about the son that broke his heart.
Jesus says the father sees the son in the distance and starts running. Running. Not waving excitedly, not pacing back and forth on the porch thinking of what to say, not standing there sternly with his arms folded and an "I told you so" look on his face. But the father, filled with compassion, saw his son in the distance and ran straight at him.
The scene is the summer of 2000, and David is having coffee with Bob, our mechanic. Bob knows that David has been sleeping with pigs, but he's too kind to ask about the details. He tells David that God has something better in mind for him, that God loves him, that David is settling for less than he was created for.
David stares down and says into his coffee, "Bob, I don't want to follow God. But I want to want to."
Bob is quiet for a minute, and then he sets down his coffee. He leans across the table, points a crooked old finger in David's face and says,"That's enough, Dave. That's enough."
And in that moment, Bob could see what David couldn't. In that moment, Bob saw God standing at the edge of time, scanning the horizon for a glimpse of David Benton. And the moment David spoke those words from his gut, God closed the distance.
God ran to him.
And you can say what you want about the Bible and Jesus and wicked pig farming, but the fact is this: God transformed my husband's life. Trust me, I should know. We've been married 22 years.
David Benton sat in his big red chair this morning and drank coffee with me. And he talked about his dad and his own sons and how sometimes we all settle for less than we were created for. And he gets tears in his eyes when he says that he knows deep in his gut that God ran and closed the distance because of some simple words spoken over a cup of coffee with a man who knew Jesus.
And it didn't take a list of rules or requirements that David had to meet. He just had to show up.
And hear me when I say this - He will run for you too.