I have a new granddaughter who was born 10 weeks early. She is spending the first weeks of her life in an incubator to help sustain her until she can survive on her own without its help controlling her body temperature, oxygen level and providing just the right amount of humidity. I’ve been thinking a lot about incubators and prodigals during these weeks. It occurs to me that our prodigal sons and daughters are in God’s incubator. Bear with me, this is a loose comparison, but one I think has some merit to it.
Incubators – Dictionary definition: An apparatus for maintaining an infant, especially a premature infant, in a controlled environment; a place or situation that permits or encourages formation and development, as of new ideas.
Of course our children have already been living in the outside world, but now they need some extra TLC from their heavenly Father, their Great Physician. They are not well and need to being lovingly cared for by their Creator in a type of intensive care unit.
In God’s incubator He wants to:
Warm their hardened, calloused hearts with His “motherly” love
Breathe His life into their lungs
Nourish their sin-sick souls with regular intravenous feedings of His Word
Care for them as their spiritual doctor and nurse, eager to provide all they need to not just survive, but thrive in the outside world!
Wash them with the priceless blood of His Son, Jesus Christ
Change them to be pure and clean both inside and out from the damage of their destructive choices through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit
Clothe them in His righteousness
Swaddle them in His tender loving care
Heal all their wounds and diseases
Give them a brand new life, an abundant life (John 10:10)
In His incubator none of their needs escapes His attention. No errors! No mistakes! Nothing missed or overlooked! They are receiving around the clock care. He provides perfect attention to the smallest detail. No problem is too serious or too difficult for him to heal. None is beyond His training or expertise. He is the best one to care for them anywhere in the world or out of this world! He has all the wisdom, power and knowledge needed. Every advanced degree, He has it! So he knows exactly what is needed and is able to provide it at just the right time and in the right way.
This intensive care is quite costly. On their own they can’t afford (neither can we!) such specialized treatment and would certainly never ask for it! It cost God His Son, but he was willing to pay the price because he loves them so much. When we just think about them our hearts burst with love, yet He loves them far more than we ever could! He knows they need these things to thrive spiritually and He is able to orchestrate the events of their lives to provide it all.
As eager as parents of preemies are to have their baby out of the incubator so they can hold them whenever they want, for as long as they want (maybe your child was a preemie and you remember what it was like!) . . . parents of prodigals are more than eager for their prayers to be answered. They are so eager to receive their children back whole and well again! Some have been waiting many years to have their child renewed, their relationship restored! I remember the awesome feeling when my daughter (then gone from us for over a year deep into drug and alcohol addiction, near death) came running into my arms asking me to forgive her for all the hurt she’d caused, telling me she loved me so much! I drank the moment deep into my momma-heart.
Father, please don’t release our children too soon! As much as we want them “with us”, we want to keep them in your expert care, under your scrutiny and watchful eye until your redeeming work is done!
O God, Great Physician of every soul, we beg of you to show your tender mercies to our children when they cry out to you for help, when they don’t even know what they need except that they are tired of the pain. Allow them to feel as much pain, loss, guilt, loneliness, depression, and brokenness as is necessary to bring them to their knees in humble surrender. May today be the day they fall down before you and beg you to take it all away. Bring them to the place of being willing to renounce their sinful lifestyle and turn in simple childlike faith to You. We believe, help our unbelief!
“Now to him who is ABLE to do immeasurably MORE than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.” (Eph. 3: 20-21)