Steven Furtick - The God of Already
God, we receive you in this place, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, exalted and lifted high, ever-present, always faithful. Anything you want to do today, Lord…whoever you want to heal, whoever you want to set free, whoever you want to change…do it again. You've done it before. Do it again. Do it again and again and again. We give you glory, and we rejoice in your presence. In Jesus' name, amen.
I don't think I have to tell you what to do, but just in case, high-five seven people and tell them, "He's going to do it again". God is so faithful. How many know he's a faithful God? You know, I've been preaching this series about God. I mean, hopefully all of the things we preach here are about God, but in a very unique way, God has been downloading to us that there's so much about him, so many ways he desires to show up in our lives, that we haven't recognized yet. Week one, I talked about how he's the God of Also. That message really meant a lot to me because it reminded me that we haven't met all of God yet. God isn't changing or morphing or expanding. He can't. He's immutable. He can't change. But we certainly, as we move through different seasons of our lives, need to see him in different ways. So, he's the God of Also.
Last week, we preached on how he's The God of Again…and again…and again…and again. "Because if he told the…" Stop. I have to move on to part 3. God gave me a part 3, and today I want to talk to you about how he's not only the God of Also and not only The God of Again but he's the God of already. The God of Already. You're here for a reason today. God has something for you today. In the spirit of last week's message about The God of Again, I'm going to use the same passage from last week again, John 21:4-9. We'll select a little different passage this time but from the same story. Time permitting, I want to also hit Luke 15 again, the story of the prodigal son. One was a story Jesus told, a parable to teach, and one was a miracle he performed, but they share a similar lesson.
The God of Already. Verse 4: "Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends, haven't you any fish?' 'No,' they answered. He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, 'It is the Lord,' he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread".
The God of Already. This message has a subtitle: Let Him Cook. I thought I'd tell you a little story. I couldn't remember if I shared it. My oldest son said he had never heard it. When I was in high school, right after I got really fired up for Jesus Christ, I was running around telling everybody they needed to be saved and they were going to hell and I wasn't. So be like me. I was burning all my Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses CDs and listening to Stryper. I burned my Pantera and went over to Petra. If you're in the subculture, you know. If you don't know, you don't know. You don't need to know. I would just tell people all the time… I was very, very bold. Some would say zeal without knowledge, but I was excited, fired up.
My dad wasn't in church at the time. He had been in church when I was a little boy. My mom always took us to church, but my dad wasn't in church at the time. He would go out and play golf on Sundays at a little par 3 golf course and get drunk with my uncle. I think as sort of an atonement, when I was getting ready to go to church, he would wake up early and cook us breakfast. So, he'd be over there making some scrambled eggs and grits. If you don't like grits, I don't need you as a member of Elevation Church. Then he would make, on occasion, some corned beef hash, some fried bologna, but it was all because he felt bad because he wasn't going to church. So, he'd wake up early and cook for us, and then he'd go off to the golf course and we'd go to church. That was going on for a little while.
One Sunday morning…I remember it really clearly…whatever came over me, I looked at him and said, "Dad, this breakfast is great. Thank you for making it. But I want to tell you something". I was only 16 or 17 years old, something like that. I said, "It's not going to be long before God is going to get ahold of your life. I've been praying for you, and God answers my prayers. Pretty soon, you're going to turn to the Lord, and it's going to be crazy. You're going to be reading the Bible all the time and going to church. You're not going to be just cooking breakfast and going off. You can cook this breakfast today, but eventually, soon and very soon, you'll be going to church with us".
I don't remember if he said anything. He didn't go to church that day. He kept cooking, and I ate and went to church. It was about a year or more later, when I had gone off to college, and I came back home to preach at Santee Circle Community Church for a weekend. After I preached the sermon, my dad came down for the altar call. When I went down to pray with him, he said, "Never stop preaching". You know, we had many bumps and bruises after that. He wasn't raptured up to heaven. He didn't become the next pope, Billy Graham, or Bill Gates, for that matter, but it really was a change in his life. He started memorizing the Bible and stuff like that. He told me something. He said, "Remember that day when you told me, when I was cooking breakfast, that God was going to get ahold of my life, and all this stuff you were saying to me"?
I said, "Yeah," because I was proud of my prophecy having come to pass. He said, "What I didn't tell you is I felt so sorry for you when you were saying all that, because I thought, 'He's going to be so disappointed. He has no idea.' I felt so sorry for you that you didn't know how low I was and how far I was from God and how I'd stand in the shower every morning before I'd go open the barbershop and just think, 'God, if you give me the strength to get through this day, I promise I'll change,' but I couldn't change. So, I sat there and listened to you, and I felt so bad that you were that crazy and that naïve to think that I could change, because you didn't know how far away I was".
Will you do me a favor? Will you look at your neighbor really quick and say, "You're not as far as you think you are"? That's what God knows that you don't. That's what the Devil knows that you don't. From that life God has called you to live and from that victory he has called you to accomplish in his name, from that freedom that to you feels like some sort of dream right now, you're not as far as you think you are, because the God of already is in the house. I tell you that story not to impress you but, as the motivational speakers would say, to impress upon you or, rather, to reflect myself on these moments we have in our lives, like I had with my dad, where you know something. You don't know how you know it. You sense it, even though your senses are telling you differently.
Your spirit says it. It actually just came to me this morning to tell you that story as I was asking God, "How can I bring them into this text"? which is a story about a fisherman named Peter who was called to be a shepherd and had to make a transition because he had been through an experience where he had let himself down and, he thought, let Jesus down. Now he's out there fishing, and Jesus is on the shore. I was wondering what was happening in that moment with my dad. What's happening in those moments of our lives where one thing is seen to be already in progress? Do y'all remember back when they used to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to give you a news report or a weather report? You used to be watching Family Matters on Friday night, watching Urkel try to get Laura Winslow one more time on Friday night, and the news would come on. "There's a storm".
They'd just interrupt your regularly scheduled programming. Then when they would get back to the program after they had said whatever they needed to say and just broke in on your program, they'd say, "We now return to your regularly scheduled programming already in progress," and then it would just go right back. No DVR. You couldn't rewind. So, Urkel still isn't with Laura, like always, and you just dropped right back into the middle of it because it was already in progress. Now, that's the challenge with the text I read you, because I just jumped right into something. You know, Peter has denied Jesus three times. He's out fishing. Who knows how bad he felt. Who knows how far he felt. He has already seen Jesus, but Jesus shows up again.
I love verse 4. This really touched me because I related to it. It said, "Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus". You know, kind of far off in the distance. They're tired. They've been fishing all night and caught nothing. They're frustrated and probably a little discouraged. They did not realize it was Jesus, but that doesn't mean he wasn't there. In seminary, they taught me this term that stuck with me. It's called the already/not yet view of Scripture. It sounds like a contradiction, but it's not. It's just the tension we all live in. Already, not yet. They taught me that in seminary. The kingdom of God came when Jesus came to earth. He said, "The kingdom of God is at hand," and he inaugurated that kingdom with miracles, signs, and wonders.
He did amazing things. He was crucified, dead, and buried and risen from the dead. He ascended to the right hand of God, and he's coming again to establish his kingdom once and for all. He already died for the sins of all who will believe on him. He already rose to life. He has risen with all power, and the keys of death, hell, and grave are in his hand. He's interceding for you right now. He has already paid the price. He has already won the victory. But as the Bible talks about these realities, there is a sense in which they are already fulfilled and a sense in which they are not yet. The picture here is that if the Bible says you are saved, it will also say you will be saved.
So, it's talking about something that happened and something that will happen. It's like, I am saved right now from the penalty of my sin, but I am still not completely set free from the pattern of sin. That's why I can say, "I'm already a child of God, but I'm not yet well behaved". I'm not yet grown up like I want to be. It's the "already, not yet". I think if you'll look at the Bible that way, it'll help you understand why sometimes you see things in the Bible, and you're like, "Oh! Am I even a Christian? 'Pray without ceasing.' I don't live that way". Well, you already pray some, but the "without ceasing" part… That's the "not yet".
The Bible even says we have been adopted into God's family. Then it says that we are awaiting our adoption. Which one is it? Well, it's already technically true, but I have not yet fully understood all of the implications of it. It would be like if they switched cameras right now. There's somebody back there who's on the other camera. Let's just switch to this one. He had to be ready to do it, and I gave him no preparation. That's why he had to be there. He was already there, waiting for a word in order to do what he was there to do. So, you find yourself in moments in your life where you get the sense that you are dealing with the "not-yetness" of you, and you're hearing about the "alreadyness" of God, and it can be hard to reconcile.
I think that's the scene here with Peter and Jesus having breakfast on the shore. I think that was the scene that day with me having breakfast with my dad. I think that's the scene in your life as well, and I invite you into it for all of your "not-yetness". One Scripture I really love… I honestly had never really paid attention to it, just skimmed right over it, but Paul is describing this in 2 Corinthians 6:10. He kind of describes it, and it sounds a little schizophrenic, but I think he's just being real. Second Corinthians 6:10: "[We are] sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…" Doesn't that sound…? "Paul, do you need some medicine or something, man? You kind of can't decide". I'm serious. "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing".
Then it gets better. He says, "…poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything". He's showing us this shift, just a little shift. He's like, "We're sorrowful, yet rejoicing. We're counted poor, but out of our poverty, it's creating a spiritual richness on the earth, and I'm glad about that". Then that last part really got me, because I taught you this last week, and I want to go a little deeper. He said, "…having nothing, and yet possessing everything". This is where I showed you my trick last week. When I start getting entitled, when I start getting petty, when I start forgetting what God has given me, it's a little trick I've learned to do to realize that I have everything.
Oh, yeah. You're looking at a blessed man, a very blessed man. I've got it all. I have everything. And here's how I get everything. I'm going to teach you how to get everything in five seconds. I can really convince myself, "Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me. I guess I'll go eat worms. I guess I'll just go over in my corner and write one of my other little sermons. Nobody loves me". Then I go, "No. This is ridiculous. What are you talking about"? Not only have I been blessed with so many things… I do an exercise where I imagine the loss of someone I love the most. You're like, "That's very negative". No. Watch where it's going to get me, because it's very, very powerful.
I imagine, "What if I lost Holly? What would I give to have her back"? Two hundred dollars? Come on, man. Everything! I'll kill you and take yours, if I have to, to get her back. Everything, whatever it takes. I'll be Mel Gibson. I'll be Liam Neeson. I will storm through the gates of hell. I would give everything to have her back, and I have her now. So what do I have? Everything. See how quick that was? I went from being annoyed, being perturbed, just being all… You know how stupid we can get when we get adjusted to something we've had access to for too long. We get acclimated to what's available, and then we become unaware of how valuable it is because we become too acclimated to what's available.
So, when it says in verse 4… Oh, I have to give you a little bit more about this. "Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus". I realized that their awareness had not caught up with his thereness yet. He was there. They weren't aware yet. He was no less there because they weren't aware of it. He's standing on the shore, cooking fish, getting ready for them to haul in some more fish. They have plenty of fish. There's going to be fish today. But the one thing they couldn't know in that moment was that he was already there where they were headed for, but there was something he wanted to show them before they got there too.
So, I look at Jesus in this passage, and I realize it's one thing to look back over my life. I see almost a sign hanging over every open door in my life: "Jesus was here". I almost think of Jesus as a graffiti artist. You know how they have a tag, and they tag when they do it? Jesus does it legally. I studied a little bit. The first graffiti artist who was recognized for his tag was named Cornbread. He was really cool. He was in Philadelphia. He hopped over the fence at the Philadelphia Zoo one time when he was 17 and spray painted the side of an elephant, and he tagged it "Cornbread lives". I look back over my life now, and I see all of these tags over not just the open doors and the opportunities God gave me but even some of the closed doors that God didn't let me go through.
Now I look back and see a tag that says, "Jesus was here". I look back over some of the relationships God brought into my life and some of the ones I asked him for and he said, "Not yet". I look back over some of the "already" blessings in my life, and I see that, hey, God has already been working on this for a long time for me. I mean, he has already done so much for me. The more I access the "already" blessings in my life… The more aware I am of the "already" blessings, the better I can deal with the "not yet" questions. To get in a space where you go, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute". Yeah, there are some things I want God to add to my life, but being blessed is not about what he might or might not add; it's about what I access that I already have.
Learning to access what I already have is the process of gratitude. Gratitude is the access point to joy. That's why I love my little exercise. When I am unaware of a blessing, I feel like it's not there even though it is. Read the Scripture. Jesus was on the shore. They didn't know it. He's there. They're not aware. He can be there, but until you are aware that he is there, it will feel as if he's not. So, the challenge of this season of my life, as a grown man, is not to look back and say, "Jesus was there," but to stand in the middle of my "not yet" and declare "Jesus is here".
I have to tag it while I'm going through it so I can hold to the truth in this situation that what I will look back on in my life in the next season and say, "God was there," he's here in it right now. His thereness always outpaces your awareness, which is how you end up like my dad, and you go, "I felt sorry for you". "You felt sorry for me? I feel sorry for you. God was working on your dumb butt, and you were too blind to see it. God sent an arrogant little 17-year-old punk wearing some Doc Martens to tell you God is going to turn your life around, and you couldn't see it. He was there. You just weren't aware of it".
How many of y'all have something you're worried about this week coming up in your life? I mean this week. I'm not talking about when you turn 94, and will there still be Social Security, and will Biden still be president or somebody older, but something this week. All right. God is going to beat you to it. Let me get more specific. Jesus is already there. "Oh, that's so nice. Imaginary Jesus is already there. This is the problem with you Christians. You have this imaginary friend named Jesus who you think is going to work everything out for you". It's not imaginary. For me (I don't know if you could say the same thing), I have more proof that he has been there for me than almost any other person in my life.
So, if you wanted to convince me that God wasn't real, you should have done that a long time ago, because you're a little late. I've already seen the ways he has made for me. I've already seen the things he has brought me through. I have already seen him bring water from a rock. You can't make me doubt him because I know too much about him. I already know. I'm not studying a book to find out if he's real. I'm not waiting on a scientist to bust open a molecule or split an atom to tell me if Christ lives. I've got the tag over my life. Jesus lives! If you know he's alive, shout "Hallelujah"! Come on, give him an "already" praise.
What's an already praise? It's when I praise him in a "not yet" situation for a blessing that he has already pressed down, shaken together… I think we need to recognize the connection between appreciating our "already" as we anticipate our "not yet". This is the greatest skill God can give you to help you fight depression, distraction, discouragement, and temptation. See, when you stay in "not yet" and forget your "already," you go running after stuff that is less than you because you got tired of waiting on something that was not yet ready for you, but when you know who you are, when you know what you already have, when you know who has already chosen you to be his, called you by name, sealed you with his Spirit, adopted you as his child, you can stand in your "already" and say, like Paul, "I don't have it yet".
I love that word. I went to therapy, and my therapist taught me how to say that word. I'm serious. It helped me. I would say, "I just can't figure it out," and the therapist would interrupt and say, "Yet". It got on my nerves. I said, "I'm not paying you to correct me. I said I can't figure it out, and I haven't figured it out," and the therapist would say, "Yet". Every time they said, "Yet," it took me back to how many things God had already done for me. See, my "already" gave me the balance for my "not yet". That's why I want you to imagine things being out of your life that are in your life so you can get back in your "already". I drove up to the church today, and I was like, "Oh man! This church… We have so much debt. We just have to pay off all our debt. Oh, wait. No, God already paid off our debt".
Now do y'all see why I'm in such a good mood preaching today? I preach really good with no debt on my back. It didn't get paid off in those five minutes before I came out to preach to you. I just recalled it to my mind, and I accessed the "already" so I could move ahead into the "not yet". Have you ever thought about how many things in this passage of Scripture Jesus asked the disciples that he already knew? It's kind of funny. Please hear me. I'm not disrespecting Jesus when I say this. I'm just using a current term to describe something that's in the text. Jesus was trolling these boys. I don't mean a trolling motor on a boat; I mean messing with them.
First of all… I did a sermon that made them mad one time called Sneaky Jesus. They thought I meant he was deceptive. I didn't mean deceptive. I mean he'll sneak up on you. He snuck up on the shore. He didn't tell them it was him. So, they don't recognize him. He's there. They're not aware. That's just like you right now. He is there in ways you're not aware of right now. You'll look back and see the tag, and it won't say, "Cornbread lives"; it'll say, "Jesus lives". But you have to see it now. So, he's on the shore, and they don't know he's there. Then in verse 5, he said, "Friends, haven't you any fish"? So, the one who created fish doesn't know if they've caught any? I think, I speculate, that he already knew, because he's sovereign and he's God.
So, I think he knew. They say, "No," and then he says, "Okay. Throw your nets over to the right side of the boat and you'll find some". The other thing he knew is where the fish were. He already knew that. The other thing he knew is that their nets were going to break and they couldn't haul them in without some help. Then, "The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, 'It is the Lord,' he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water". What I really couldn't get over about this passage… I don't know if you noticed it. It said, "…they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards".
Wait. So, let's do some math. They're in the boat, fishing, catching nothing. Jesus is on the shore 100 yards away. I don't know the exact dimensions of Peter's boat. It is Peter's boat. That's why Jesus chose Peter to be his disciple: because Jesus needed transportation. I've heard all of these deep things. "He chose Peter because he was…" Nope. It wasn't his boldness; it was his boat. That's why Jesus chose him. I'm settling it once and for all. And his boldness, but mostly his boat, because he needed to travel around. So, now Peter is back in that boat, and he's fishing. I don't know the exact dimensions of the boat, but I do know one thing. No matter how big this boat was… Is there anybody here who has a boat?
Come on. God is not going to strike you for having a boat. You can have a boat and tithe and go to heaven. All right. How big could the boat be? Let's say it was a pretty big fishing boat but just a singular boat. Some research I accessed (it doesn't say it in the text) said it might have been about eight feet wide, max. Does that sound about right? Is it conceivable that it would have been eight feet wide? Okay. So, you mean to tell me they have been fishing all night, and they are about to row in 100 yards to the shore, and from one side of the boat to the other is the difference between "We're starving" and "We're stuffed".
You mean to tell me that they've been out there all night, and at just the moment they're about to give up… I'm prophesying to somebody. At just the moment they're about to row the boat ashore 100 yards… What they don't know in that moment is that if they take the nets from the left side of the boat to the right side of the boat… If the boat is only eight feet wide, and the shore is 100 yards away, that means it's easier for them to keep fishing than it is for them to give up. Follow me. You have to go 100 yards to give up, but you only have to go eight feet for a great catch. And the fish aren't on the way when you drop the nets. The fish are already… At the moment you drop the nets, the fish don't start to swim. No! That's why Jesus got to the shore early. He told the fish to swim, and they did.
So, when you drop your nets in your "not yet" season, you need to know that what you're fishing for is not far from you. You might be eight feet away from a new day, eight feet away from restoration, eight feet away from freedom from your addiction, eight feet away from a relationship that will take you out of loneliness and bring you into fruitful union. Eight feet away! Wouldn't you hate to miss your harvest and find out it was only eight feet away? It's going to be big, baby. You're going to make a difference. You're going to tell others. You're going to help others. You're not just going to be selfish; you're going to serve others. God already knows what he has called you to do. The Devil wants you to pull that boat in and give up, because he knows you're eight feet away.
See, it is the principle that sometimes a small shift can make a big difference. Just to make a small shift today. You're not as far as you think you are. Whoever this word is for, it is burning like a fire in my bones. You're not as far as you think you are. I wish I could muster the faith I had when I told my dad that. You're not as far as you think you are. God can snatch you with his pinky finger. He's strong. His hand is not slack. I don't care how far you are. You're not as far as you think you are, not from God. He's God who told the sun when to rise, and it did. He's God. I'm talking about God who told the storm to be still, and it did. I'm talking about God who told the walls when to fall, and they did. I'm talking about God who told the bones "Come alive," and they did.
I'm going to add another one. And if he told the fish when to swim, and they did, he will again. Oh, it's the remix. We haven't even released the original yet, and we're already working on the remix, because he's God, and he's good, and he's faithful. Did you hear me, Devil? Because he's God, and he's good, and he's faithful. It's on the way! Let your nets down! So, I see a picture right now. Stay with me. I want to minister to somebody. You think you are so far from God. Watch this. Not only was Jesus only 100 yards away and they had no idea that he was, and not only were the fish only eight feet away and they had no idea that they were, but, Peter, you have already been restored in God's eyes.
Now it's time for you to be restored in your eyes. Receive it. Paul said you can go from having nothing to possessing everything. Having nothing yet to possessing everything. Your nets are empty. You don't have it yet. That doesn't mean it's not there. The gift you have is real. It just isn't fully grown yet. The forgiveness you have is real. You're just not fully acquainted and familiar with your freedom in Christ yet. I'm saving y'all money on a therapy bill. This is what they're going to do if you go over there. I'm trying to save you some money on a therapy bill. Drop a little something in the bucket for your therapist today. I want you to see the power of your yet. To believe in the God of "already" is to trust the God of "not yet".
With every step you take, with every habit you implement… A lady told me at Elevation Nights, she was standing there, and I did the thing y'all hate when I do. I said, "Turn to your neighbor and say…" She said, "I rolled my eyes. You made me say something to my neighbor. He was tall, and I was single, and he was single". She wrote me a letter and said, "Today, he is my husband". I'm not making it up. I'll print the email. I'll put it on Twitter Spaces and Myspace. I mean, something as simple as "Turn to your neighbor…" Turn to your neighbor really quick and tell them, "Not yet". "I thought he was finished". Not yet.
I'm done teaching, but I want to give you the picture from Luke 15, because I would hate not to give you this. Do you remember how I told you there are two stories here, and Jesus taught one, and then the other one he actually acted out? They're both saying the same thing: you're not as far as you think you are. There were two sons, and one said to his father, "I want my share of the inheritance". So he set out to a distant country. What kind of country? A distant country. While he was there, he spent all he had on riotous living. For a little while it went well, but then eventually, he came to a point where nobody knew how bad it was, and he longed to fill his stomach with the husks that the swine ate. He was that low.
Finally, the Bible says, he came to himself. I believe somebody is coming to yourself today, and God is already there. God already sees you like you really are. You just don't yet. He came to himself and said, "How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will arise and go to my father, and perhaps he will make me like one of his hired servants". Verse 20 is where it really picks up for our purpose as we close today. It says, "He got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him".
How many times did I read this story and never really notice what was happening? Just before this, this boy is making a story that he's going to tell his dad. He's making his plan to get back in good graces with his dad, to reconcile, to get back where he belongs. A lot of you are like that. You're like, "Okay. I'm going to get my life together. I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that. I'm going to join a gym, and then I'm going to drink a smoothie, and then I'm going to… I don't want a smoothie; I want a milkshake. I'm going to drink a milkshake, and then I'm going to join a gym. I'm going to join that gym where they have milkshakes at the gym and pizza. I like that gym".
So, he's planning it all out, but he's tired. He's exhausted. He's ashamed. Not to make light of the story. I mean, he really doesn't know. "Am I even going to be welcome back? Is this even going to work"? I don't just mean this for people who are… I mean, I certainly mean this for people who don't know God. But for those of us who do, there are times in our lives where we think, "I feel sorry for you, Preacher. You're telling me all this, but you don't know how far I am. You don't know what's going on with me and my wife".
One guy finally told me the other day… He said, "I've been faking you out for five months. I keep telling you everything is good because I don't want you to think badly of me because you're a preacher. I haven't had a job for five months. I've been leaving the house every day, just going to Panera so my kids would think I had a job. I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm running out of money".
All over the room there are "not yet" empty nets…all over the world. So, you get this strategy in your mind, and you think, "Okay. Here's how I'm going to get it together. Here's how I'm going to fix it". That could be exhausting. It could stop you from even taking the first step, really. I have to imagine with every step the boy is taking, he's thinking, "God, I hope Dad will have me back, even if he'll just let me sleep outside. I'll prove myself. I'll work my way back. I'll get there. I'll get there. It may take me years. I'll get there. So, I'm going to make a speech to him".
Remember, it's a distant country, so he has a long walk ahead of him. At some point along this long walk, as he's rehearsing his speech… "'Father, I'm no longer worthy. Make me a hired servant. I've disgraced you. I've shamed you. I've sinned, and I'm sorry.' Maybe I should put the first part first. 'I'm sorry. I have sinned.' No. 'I've sinned. I'm sorry.'" Every step, he's working this out and rehearsing it in his mind. "Here's how I'm going to get back. Here's how I'm going to do it. I'm going to say to my father… I'm going to say to my father… I'm going to say to my father…"
While he's rehearsing his speech, somehow, someway, his father is already running toward him. You look up, and you realize, "Oh, he's already here". While he was still a long way off… While he still thought, "I have so far to go," the one he was planning to grovel to grabs him with grace and pulls him in. You're not as far as you think you are. It takes awhile to put your life back together, but it only takes a moment to be right with God. That's all it is. He already decided. He already paid for it. You were always his. You always will be his. You always have been welcome in his presence, always will be loved.
The God of already is the God of every "not yet". We stand in the middle today. I want to tell you: save your speech. God doesn't need you to tell him 25 reasons you're sorry. Just come to him and say, "Father, I'm yours, and I trust that everything I'm worried about in tomorrow, you're already there. You're already on the shore. You're not far, so I'm not far. I'm already loved. I'm already chosen. I know who I am. I'm a child of God. Nothing can change that. I know what you've spoken". I'm already loved More than I could imagine, And that is enough.