After homeschooling our three children for over 20 years, we watched them walk away from the Lord, and from us, one by one. Since this process began twelve years ago we have seen them leave, return, and leave again. Two of our children are currently estranged from us. While I can write it here as dry fact, nothing pains my heart more, every day, than not hearing from those two children.
I struggle often with the what-ifs and blaming myself. As a mother, made my children a priority for years, praying they would grow up to follow Jesus. This was my life’s calling. The condemnation of failure has weighed on my heart.
This past weekend, I heard a sermon about the Prodigal Son, which gave me new insight. You see, what I forgot when I was busy protecting my children from the world was that they were born with the same sinful, prodigal heart I was.
The Prodigal Son thought he’d be happier with his father’s stuff, but without the father. I lived that way once, before I knew Jesus Christ as my Savior. Sometimes I still act like I can handle an area of my life without God’s help. Even believers can act like prodigals.
The Prodigal Son went away to a distant land and lived in pleasure until his money and friends were gone. We know how the story goes. But his father didn’t know the outcome at the time. What we read in a few sentences, could have taken place over months or years. How many days did the father take a peek out on the road, in case his son was out there, and go back to the house disappointed? It’s hypothetical, because it’s a parable, but the story can give us perspective.
We don’t know how long our profligate sons and daughters will take to get to the point of the prodigal in the parable. What, to them, will be like eating pig’s food before they come to their senses? What did it take you or me to realize the need for God’s grace and forgiveness?
These days I’m thankful for the little miracles—a visit home by one of my children after three years away or a recent “happy birthday” phone call. I count these blessings, when once I would have taken them for granted.
Confess there are moments I’m angry at God and ask why our family relationships aren’t better. Yet, He has allowed it all for a purpose. Whether it is to humble me or help me to see things through His eyes. Lord, do you feel I’ve pulled away from you like that? You must feel so pained when your children are too busy or angry to spend time with You. These are thoughts I’ve pondered. He’s also taught me mercy toward others in the brokenness.
I wish I had the magic formula to share with mothers of all prodigals—a sure fire prayer with a guaranteed result. Something like: X prayer + Y prayer = your child coming home. But I can’t.
I can share these truths:
1) God loves your child even more than you do. They have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” by Him. He sent His Son to die for them.
2) We fail sometimes, but no parent is perfect. God, who is the Perfect Parent said about ancient Israel, “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” (Isaiah 1:2) He understands how we feel. But also we need to remember what Romans 5:20 says: “. . . where sin abounded, grace did much more abound . . .” We have made mistakes, but God’s grace covers it. Where we were lacking, He is not. God is more than sufficient to bring healing grace to our children. Don’t feel like a failure! Move forward in God’s forgiveness and love.
3) He changes us as we pray. He says: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” We cling to Him when we realize we don’t have all the answers. He gives me more than I can handle because of His grace and love for me. He wants me to cling to Him for daily strength.
Dear fellow-parents of prodigals, don’t give up on His promises, don’t give up on hope. Be ready with the ring and the robe, love, and forgiveness, out on the proverbial road, just in case today is the day your prodigal is coming home. We may not know the “when” or “how,” but He is big enough to do it. Yet, whatever He does, He has a plan. Through it all we can’t be separated from His love.
ABOUT AUTHOR KATHLEEN ROUSER
Kathleen Rouser has loved making up stories since before she could even read. She desires to create characters, who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. Her first novel, Rumors and Promises, was published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, in 2016.
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