"I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me one of your hired men" Luke 15:19.
This would work. His father couldn't resist an offer like this. Actually, Dad HAD to accept this deal because the boy was out of options. When it came to keeping the books, the younger son's ledger was seriously in the red. This however, would put him back in the black...eventually.
We do the same thing. We craft bail-outs with God because we mistakenly believe that He's in the recordkeeping business. We know there are no free lunches. Salvation must surely come with some strings attached. We're so wrong to think this way.
We misunderstand our Father's other-centered, self-giving love in the same way the Prodigal misjudged his father's. God, just like this boy's father, isn't looking for hired hands, but for sons.
Sonship-the term makes us queasy because we're focused on why this just can't be so. We've invented our own concept of what He considers the "perfect kid." It's no surprise that our ideas don't even come close. God's not fooled. He KNOWS we've missed the mark by more than the proverbial country mile. Still we look to cut a deal.
"God if You do X, then I promise to do Y." If that's not working or good enough we'll start with A and work through the whole alphabet until we run out of letters or drop dead trying, figuratively speaking. Exhaustion and resentment sets in. This is just too hard.
Trying to balance the books is an exercise in frustration. You don't burn calories, just brain cells. You never know how much you owe and every time you think you just might have the books balanced, you mess up...AGAIN.
God's not helping either. He won't tell you what you owe. It's not because He's mean and likes to keep you twisting in the wind, He doesn't know Himself. He chooses not to remember. Your ledger is awash with scarlet, but it's the blood of Jesus and not red ink. All debts are paid in full. We just have to believe this.
If I were in the Prodigal's sandals I'd have been dumbfounded. I wouldn't have believed my eyes or ears. Dad doesn't give two hoots that I squandered the inheritance he worked so hard to give me? Now, instead of a fit of rage he throws a party in my honor? When's the other shoe going to drop?
Fortunately for him, and us, neither his father nor our Heavenly Father have any "other shoes" to drop on us. Cognitive dissonance rears its head again. How can He not be upset. If we were in His place we wouldn't be so quick to release the past without at least some wise crack or derogatory remark.
If we want to keep a ledger for God, He'll allow it, not that He'll pay it any mind. If we want to we can keep crafting deals we can't keep. If somehow we manage to pull it off, we can pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. He'll wait. Eventually we'll be bankrupt with nothing to offer as collateral and that's fine with Him. Maybe by then we'll get the point-God's not looking for good deals or hired hands. He wants sons who are priceless. So costly He paid for them Himself.
How about you? When have you found yourself trying to get on with God as a hired hand as opposed to accepting your role as a son? If you reached the breaking point without successfully holding up your side of the "deal"- what happened? How if at all did that change your view of God?
We've all tried bargaining with God, and it usually doesn't work out as planned, sometimes worse. If you're discouraged, take heart. God has already accepted you as a son. Pitch the ledger and come in and join the party.