I have always enjoyed Kyle Idleman’s books. There are a number of reasons. His sense of humor appeals to me. His writing style is comfortable. But most importantly, he has an ability to say profoundly challenging things in an accessible way.
Idleman’s newest book, entitled AHA: The God Moment that Changes Everything, is case and point. The book is humorous. It is an easy read. And he has done a wonderful job reminding us of how God brings transformation to our lives.
The book, which is based on the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, begins with some thoughts on the whole self-help genre. Self-help books are everywhere, covering every topic. The very volume of self-help books suggests that they do not really help much at all. Is our “self” really able to help us with the problems we face? The main premise of Idleman’s book is that we need to reject our self’s offer and help and embrace the provision and power of God’s help.
Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, almost everyone finds themselves, at times in their life or in certain areas of their life, in a distant country. There are times when we have walked away from God, perhaps with our whole life, or perhaps in particular areas of our life where we do not want to submit or obey to God. There are, of course, many reasons for rejecting God’s provision and care. AHA reminds us that God is often not who we assume him to be. He is an ever present source of help.
The book is contains three main sections, each section focusing on one part of the transforming work of God in our lives. The first – “A” – stands for sudden awakening. The prodigal son, having rejected his father, spent his inheritance finds himself feeding pigs to make a living. As Luke 15:17 notes, one day, in the midst of that situation, he came to his senses. He came to a realization of where his life was leading. It was not a pretty picture. God has many ways of bringing sudden awakening to us. His uses his Word or the words of others, or perhaps He gives us a taste of the future consequences of our actions. During this time of awakening, we come to the recognition that we cannot turn our lives around ourselves.
The second step is “”H” – brutal honesty. As Luke 15:17-19 notes, the prodigal son said to himself - my father’s servants are better off than I am. He looked into the mirror at his life and saw that it was profoundly lacking. Such honesty brings healing and drives us to God for His forgiveness. Of course, we can find all number of excuses to avoid being honest with ourselves. We can deny the depth of our problem. We can project the reasons we have problems on others. We can minimize our problems, convincing ourselves they are no big deal. But if we avoid those kind of pitfalls, we come to a good but painful place, and we can be honest about our lives or areas of our lives are deeply in need of God’s help.
The last step in AHA – “A” – is immediate action. The prodigal son did not spend weeks pondering his fate. Luke 15:20 simply states that after he realized his predicament and was bold enough to be honest with himself, he got up and went back home. He acted. Without action, the awakening God brings to our life amounts to nothing. How many times have you been convicted by a sermon, only to walk out of church without doing anything about it? Passivity, procrastination and a defeatist attitude that convinces us that it is too late are the enemies of action.
Luke 15 tells us how the story of the prodigal son ends. His father embraces him, forgives him and celebrates his homecoming. Our story can end up the same way. No matter how far we have run, or how long we have run, or how many areas of our life we have resisted God’s call to holiness, God is still there. His patience and mercy and grace is still available. And like the prodigal son’s father, our Heavenly Father longs to embrace us, forgive us and celebrate our homecoming.