What happens in that life altering moment? How do you respond when life falls apart around you? Ever find yourself lying in a pile of pig slop and feces? The prodigal son did and it was his situation and response that Kyle Idleman explores in his book AHA:That God Moment that Changes Everything. The book explores the three movements in the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15) that brings him back into a relationship with his father. Aha is an acronym for these movements.
Movement 1: Awakening. What are the things that bring about the moment that forever changes your future? The Prodigal son finds himself in a distant country (Idleman points out that this is the places or things in your life that you don’t let God control or go) far from his relationship with God. This is rock bottom. This is the 4:30 alarm that wakes you up and brings you to a realization that something is wrong! Idleman points out that we sometimes bring them on ourselves (“he squandered his wealth…”) and sometimes they just happen (“there was a famine in the land…” v. 14). Either way it is the “awakening” moment that helps us to realize (“…then he realized…” v.17) that this is not where we are supposed to be. Be it from words from a friend, or a message in our gut, we know there is more to us than this, which brings us to…
Movement 2: Brutal Honesty. Idlement observes: “Sometimes the hardest conversation to have is the one you must have with yourself.” (85) Verse 17 of Luke 15 depicts the Prodigal Son talking to himself about himself. Sometimes it is a conversation that we must have within us, sometimes it is a conversation we have with others, but the point is there needs to be honesty about the situation where we currently reside. Accountabilty and confession (not apology necessarily, he very astutely points out the difference) are much needed at this phase of the story. The Prodigal son has to own the situation he is in for healing to take place. (18) Often times we refuse to be honest with ourselves and we use three things to avoid owning our issues. 1) Denial – we refuse to acknowledge it [chap 6]; 2) Project – its someone else’s fault [chap 7]; 3) Minimalize – its not that big of an issue [chap 8]. Luckily the Prodigal son refused to do these things and was honest with himself about the issue.
Movement 3: Immediate Action. “So he got up…”(20) is how the story continues. So rarely do we leave sin and hurt and struggle in the rearview mirror so definitively, but the Prodigal did. Idleman astutely shows that action is where most of our issues lie. Its not that we don’t know that we have sinned and are honest about it, but it’s the chaning ways that cause the problems. He points out a couple attitudes that we take toward action: 1) Passivity – we think it will all work out in the end; 2) Procrastination – we can deal with it tomorrow; 3) Defeatism – its too late now. All of these things are issues that paralyze us toward movement, resolution, and forgiveness. Of course the story ends with the son in the house of the father. The Father seeks out both prodigal sons for a touching reunion.
Idleman’s writing provides for a quick and thoughtful read. His methodology is quite conversational and very pointed. His stories are hilarious and provides great Technicolor to his teaching. His application is spot on with life circumstances. He understands what he is communicating and how to do it best. Each chapter contains one thought so it is easy to follow. He has also included study questions in the back for small groups. This book is a must read for anyone who deals with lost people (or feels like one at some times). It is perfect for searching and hurting people.