When I was a young boy, I used to love sci-fi movies. Especially the ones that had a lot to do with time travel. The idea of building a time machine and going into the future or back in time really intrigued me. I was fascinated about what the future would look like – flying cars, high rise buildings, fashion – all exciting. But what caught my eye the most was the ability to go back in time and fix stuff. I remember one such movie, Back to the Future. In one of the (many) sequels, they had to go back to the past to rectify something that had gone wrong. Biff, one of the bad characters in the movie, had found a book of all the horse races and sports game results in the past. He then went (stole) on the time machine, went back in time, to give his younger self the book and get rich. Marty and Dr Emmet had to go back into past to stop old Biff (from the future) – giving young Biff (from the past) the book – confused? Yeah, I know.
Can you imagine the chance to go back in time and change something? A decision? A word? An event? So that you can fix the future. It is rather interesting isn’t it? Being able to go back and wipe your mistakes, so that you don’t get to live with the guilt or consequences of those mistakes. And sometimes it’s not really that far in the past – it could be last week, or last month or even this morning.
In Luke chapter 15, we are introduced to the story of the prodigal son. The son who told his father he wanted his inheritance today, so that he could go and squander it in wild living. What a bad, terrible mistake. This decision he took, to turn away from his father and his blessing, did not result in much, but dire consequences for him. He was stranded, alone and sought company from pigs (Luke 15:15-16). At the time of making the decisions, I’m sure it look like it was a good decision. Truth be told, we would also have the same temptation, given the chance. But reading the words he says in verse 17 of Luke 15, it looks like he could have done with a time machine, to transport him back in time and not make the same mistake he did. So that he could avoid the anguish, embarrassment and pain of what he was experiencing.
How many of us have gone through the same process? Where we make bad decisions, where we turn away from God and do our thing because it “looked and felt” like a good decisions at the time. The time where we are led by our sinful desires and they manifest into actions, words that hurt or destroy relationships, including ourselves. A time machine would be needed. I am sure King David would have thought the same, after he coveted Bathsheba, slept with her, killed her husband and lied about the whole thing (2 Samuel 11). What he would have done to go back in time and fix things – or at least warn his younger self not to walk around the palace on that day.
But we don’t have a time machine. The great ideas of the movies, unfortunately do not exist in reality and we have to face the challenges and consequences of the rebellion against God.
But the story does not end there….
Looking back at the prodigal son, when he came to his senses, he left the place of desolation that he was in sought after his father. He went back to his father to seek forgiveness and acceptance, even after all he had done (Luke 15: 18-25). To his surprise, the father welcomed him, embraced and treated him as if he never left. His father never stopped thinking about him, even after all this time. The son had rebelled, but the father forgave, accepted and loved him, despite what he had done.
And so with us, when we turn away from God. When we come back to him and seek him, he will forgive us, restore us and love us beyond our comprehension. And this love is not because we have dome some great deed, it is because of what Christ has done for us on the cross.
No matter how much you think you have sinned, how much you have rebelled against your father in heaven – taken his blessings and squandered them – he has the unending capacity and capability to forgive you. It matters not the sin you’ve committed, what matters is the greatness of God’s willingness and ability to forgive you every single time you turn to him. God is able to forgive, even our deepest darkest sin. So, if you are hiding, worried and embarrassed about what you’ve done to turn away from him, don’t hide, come to him, come back to God. Much like the prodigal son, when he sees you, he will lift his robes and run towards you, hug and kiss you and he will clothe you (Luke 15:20).
When I look at my past and the many times I have turn away from God and done my own thing, it’s hard to think of and live with the consequences, but what brings greater joy is that God was able to forgive me and restore me. That has far much more comfort and assurance than a time machine.