I'm Not Dead Yet


Are you watching and waiting for any prodigals in your life? Our patient Father is watching for signs of life and can warm even the iciest heart.

It could be my favorite movie of all time. In Monty Python’s Holy Grail, medieval “ambulance” drivers drag their flat carts through a neighborhood devastated by the plague and call out, “Bring out y’r dead.” One fellow emerges from a squalid hovel carrying a huge gunnysack over his shoulder. “Here’s one,” he says. “I’m not dead yet,” comes a voice from the sack. “I think I’m getting better. I think I’ll go for a walk.”

My formerly grand peace lily, which I have been tending ever since the funeral of a dear woman, has been placed near a casket. I’ve had it for years, but I had a week long trip out of town and neglected to ask anyone to water it. When I came back it was bedraggled and brown, every last stalk limp and drooping over the rim of the pot. I had a Monty Python moment and attempted a rescue. I quickly poured a gallon of water in and got it in the most direct sunlight I could find. As you can see, there is a small ray of hope that at least part of the plant will survive.

If you live in the North like me, you despair of any living thing surviving the bitter winter we’ve had. Everything green is under several feet of snow and ice. We’ve had long stretches of below-zero temperatures. And yet we are totally confident that spring will come, that plant and animal life will return when the warm time comes back. Our awesome God can bring life out of death. Somehow the animals have not been killed by the cold; somehow green things can emerge from beneath the ice. We’re not dead yet.

I think often of the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable. His father may have had to face the terrible conclusion that his son was a total loss, and yet he didn’t give up hope. Think of all the people you know who threw away their childhood faith. Perhaps they look like total prodigals, total losses. And yet our God can bring life out of no life. Maybe they aren’t dead yet. When God’s mighty two-by-four had brought some sense on the side of the prodigal’s head, he dragged himself back to his father to ask for mercy. To his astonishment he was greeted like a prince.

That’s what God’s grace does for foolish sinners like you and me. Even if we think we’re too far gone, our patient and hopeful Father is watching for signs of life and can warm even the iciest heart. A few years ago I had the astonishing and gratifying experience of baptizing a “runaway” in his 70s, a successful businessman, a few days before he died. Are you watching and waiting for any prodigals in your life? Pray and hope—maybe they’re not dead yet.

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