Thursday, June 4, 2015

Prodigal Amsterdam

Two days ago, we said goodbye to Prague. I can honestly say Prague is a beautiful city (see pics!). But, very chill. On the last night, I was able to experience absinthe in the traditional, I'm-a-fake-Ernest-Hemingway type of way at the Hemingway Bar. There was slow-dripping ice water, and a sugar cube on a slotted spoon. We sipped, we talked. It was a good way to finish out that leg of the trip.

Prague highlights?
  • Street performers (as previously blogged about)
  • The Prague Food Festival (this is not "Taste of Arlington" people). This is true foodie-ism at a festival with a castle as the back big deal. 
  • The Alcron - This was our Prague Michelin restaurant. Where Hisop in Barcelona failed us, The Alcron made up for it. Our dessert...OMG! They even gave us macarons for the road! A place in my heart is reserved for that establishment. 
We left Prague excited for the last leg of our trip: Amsterdam.
Food festival chef

But when we arrived, our airbnb was not up to our standards. It's hard to describe what was wrong with this apartment, but it was simply depressing. Well, I guess I could describe what was wrong but I don't want to gross you out. It was just BAD. I kid you not, we couldn't sleep in the bedroom, so we moved the mattress into the living room (revealing all sorts of crazy), and then proceeded to sleep on top of the covers, in workout dri-fit hoodies for warmth. The bathroom was sketch in a way that made us do our nighttime routines over the kitchen sink. 'Nuff said.

The night was cold. And stressful. And I woke up in the morning with this thought: everything in a Christian's life is some version of the Prodigal Son.

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father... 
 - Luke 15:11-18

Food festival fare
Yesterday morning, I came to my senses. June is a late sleeper, so while she was catching zzz's, I was up battling the shower and brushing my teeth over a kitchen sink. And I thought: I don't have to live this way.

I simply did not. I could live that way. But I didn't HAVE to. Newsflash: I'm a huge nerd. And if I don't know how to do something, I Google it. So, there was a point at which I googled these words: 

How to Make the Most out of Bad Situation

...I honestly don't know how to do that! Buuuut, that is the subject of another blog and some future prayers, because at that moment God wasn't telling me to "tough it out." The answer was instantly available: so I redirected my Google search to hotels. And when June opened her eyes, I let her know: we're gonezo.

If you've ever heard a sermon on the prodigal son, it probably wasn't "come to your senses." The prodigal son is a multifaceted story; it's like a crystal that light streaks through differently depending on how you turn it. There are so many different rays of truth in it, and one of them is: 

Come to your senses!
To "come to to your senses" literally means to regain consciousness. And to be conscious means to be 1) aware of your surroundings, and 2) responding to your surroundings.

The Prodigal Son lost consciousness in verse 1 when he said: "Father, give me what's mine." He got to a point where he thought "I can do it on my own." All he needed was his money. All he needed was the means. But what he really needed was the Father.

Going under the bridge in a small boat
The Prodigal son continued to display unconscious behavior in subsequent verses:  And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating. He's doing something that makes him perpetually unclean in his culture. How can he go home after living this abominable lifestyle? But how can he stop this abominable lifestyle since he has to eat?! It's a Catch-22. He either is perpetually unclean or he starves to death. Those are his two choices. Those are his only two choices! 

...Except for they are not. He came to his senses and realized he had a third choice: I can go home!

How often are we like the prodigal son: thinking we're too far gone?  We can get caught up in situations that seem like vicious cycles of "this sucks." And our choices start to diminish. And the way back seems impossible...

But that's because we are unaware of our surroundings. We're unaware of WHO is surrounding us, and who is waiting for us.

God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble. - Psalm 46:1

A present help is instantly available. We just have to open our eyes to see it.