Listen as Jake O’Connor tells his story before singing the song My Story by Big Daddy Weave. Near the end of his story (at about the 2:49 mark), Jake gives a shout out to the Prodigal Pilgrim theme of this blog.
Perhaps you have noticed the new tagline and logo for FrankGantz.com. If so you may be wondering what is a prodigal pilgrim. At first glance it may appear that these two terms are contradictory. So let me explain. This explanation is important because the future of this blog will be about what these terms mean.
Before I answer what is a prodigal pilgrim, let me answer who is a prodigal pilgrim. The quick answer to that question is that I am a prodigal pilgrim. The Lord called me to be his son when I was but a lad. Much of my early life was characterized by periods of growing in grace and periods of diving into sin. In my latter teen years the Lord became more and more real to me as I delighted in serving him.
This service included preaching and teaching the Bible as a pastor in his churches. I loved the life that God had graciously granted to me. In my late 30’s I demonstrated a lack of discipline played the role of the prodigal.
For more than a decade, I rushed headlong down that prodigal path. At times I would begin the journey back home to the Father only to hear and heed the call back down that ugly path. I could go on and on.
As I embarked upon my 50’s, the Lord graciously struck at my heart. Both physically and spiritually. Physically I went through four heart attacks that have taken a serious toll on my health. I currently have four bypassed arteries and seven stents in my heart. Physically I’m not the man I was just a few years ago.
Spiritually I have moved far beyond where my spiritual heart was throughout my 40’s. God has been about the work of restoring this prodigal and turning him back into a pilgrim.
Back to the question of what is a prodigal pilgrim. Sadly, I am not the only person who has walked such an uneven path. A prodigal pilgrim is a person who genuinely sets out to follow the Lord. At some point there is a temporary turning back away from the Father. Yet it is only temporary.
That is the difference between a prodigal pilgrim and an apostate. An apostate turns back never to return to the Lord. It is an indication that they never really followed the Lord. But for those who are his, God works to draw them back home.
It was Peter who wrote,
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
–1 Peter 2:11 (KJV)
This was the same Peter who thrice denied the Lord on the eve of the crucifixion. In a passage that means as much to me as any in the Bible, Jesus gave Peter a heart rending prophecy. But Jesus did not leave Peter’s future on the prodigal path.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again strengthen your brothers.”
–Luke 22:31-32 (ESV)
Peter followed the Lord. He turned from the Lord. He turned again to the Lord. This is the path of a prodigal pilgrim.
Like Peter, the Lord has granted me the privilege of again preaching and teaching the Bible. I do not do so as a pastor. I do so under the authority of the Lord and his undershepherds. My mission is to strengthen my brothers.
Like David who returned to the Lord after his adultery, I cling to his confession which includes this prayer,
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
So I am a prodigal pilgrim. Striving to walk closely to the Lord and privileged to teach others about the path of the Lord.
As to the new logo for the blog, two opposite pointing arrows indicate that I have gone backwards and am now walking forward. For however long the Lord keeps me in this failing body, I will strive to press on with the Lord.
Perhaps you find yourself on a prodigal path. I urge you with everything I have, turn back to the Lord. Your sins may not be so heinous or your wandering away so long in time, but each of us who claim the name of Jesus find ourselves walking the wrong way far too often. That is why Martin Luther said that the entirety of the Christian walk is to be a life of repentance.
Perhaps you will join me on the path that leads to glory and away from the path that leads to shame. I welcome you.
This link is to an article about reaching out to wayward children in hopes that they find their way to Christ.
If you find yourself with a prodigal child, you will want to read the entire article. Here are the points from the article.