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Archive for the ‘Parenting a Prodigal’ Category

This week’s devotional series is written by a woman who has experienced the challenge of watching her daughter turn away from the things she once held dear.  Parenting a Prodigal isn’t easy and God has revealed some Real Truth’s to this mom in the midst of her Real Life story.  For part one, just click Given the Time .

My journey with my prodigal isn’t over.  She still isn’t making the best choices (or at least not the choices I believe are wisest).  She is slowly finding her faith and rebuilding her confidence in me.  Perhaps the difference is I am wiser and not as quick to judge or offer unrequested guidance.  Through these intervening years, I have sought comfort in my own prodigal moments  and been reminded that when I was lost, God “ran” to that cross 2000 years ago to rescue me—extending grace I didn’t deserve and couldn’t earn.  I want to end this week encouraging your heart with the lyrics of a song Rich Mullins first sang that you can reflect on while you wait for your prodigal or in those moments when you wonder if your Heavenly Father is waiting for you:

When God Ran

Almighty God, the great I am
Immovable rock, omnipotent, powerful, awesome Lord
Victorious warrior, commanding King of Kings
Mighty conqueror, and the only time
the only time I ever saw Him run

CHORUS:
Was when He ran to me, He took me in His arms
Held my head to His chest, said “My son’s come home again”
Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice He said,
“Son do you know I still love you?”
He caught me by surprise when God ran

The day I left home I knew I’d broken His heart
And I wondered then if things could ever be the same
Then one night I remembered His love for me
And down that dusty road ahead I could see
It was the only time – it was the only time I ever saw Him run

And then He ran to me, He took me in His arms
Held my head to His chest, said “My son’s come home again”
Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice He said,
“Son do you know I still love you?”
He caught me by surprise as He brought me to my knees
When God ran – I saw Him run to me

BRIDGE:
I was so ashamed, all alone and so far away
But now I know He’s been waiting for this day

I saw Him run to me, He took me in His arms
Held my head to His chest, said “My son’s come home again”
Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice I felt His love for me again

He ran to me, He took me in His arms
Held my head to His chest, said “My son’s come home again”
Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice He said, “Son”, He called me Son
He said, “Son do you know I still love you?”
He ran to me and then I ran to Him
When God ran

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This week’s devotional series is written by a woman who has experienced the challenge of watching her daughter turn away from the things she once held dear.  Parenting a Prodigal isn’t easy and God has revealed some Real Truth’s to this mom in the midst of her Real Life story.  For part one, just click Given the Time .

There is a truism in life that says you can never go home again.  In the culture of Jesus’ day, a rebellious child was to be stoned.  Deut 21:15-21 explains that a stubborn, rebellious son was to be taken before the leaders who would then stone him to death to “cleanse this evil from among you.”

Yet, Jesus shared the illustration of the Prodigal as being welcomed home.  Not only welcomed but celebrated by the Father.  There are other examples in Scripture of sons being welcomed back—Abraham was able to welcome Isaac back from the altar because God provided another sacrifice, and Jacob was able to welcome Joseph back after years of believing he was dead (Gen 45:14-46:29).

When the Prodigal finally “came to his senses” (Luke 15:17), he started home intending to seek forgiveness and ask to become his father’s employee because he knew even as a hired man his life would be better than what he had experienced on his own.  However, the Father was “filled with love and compassion” and while the son was still a “long distance” away, the Father ran to embrace him and kissed him.  Though his son did ask for forgiveness, the father did not accept him as a hired man, but claimed him as his son and called for a celebration.  (Luke 15:20-24).

After two years of extremely poor life choices, one night I received a frantic call from my daughter asking if I could come immediately…that she wasn’t in the condition to drive.  She was sobbing hysterically and sounded desperate.  I understood the Father of the Prodigal running in that moment.  As fast as I could legally, I drove to her home.  I spent several tearful hours listening to my daughter pour out her pain, anger, and sorrow as she asked forgiveness for the “sins” she had committed.  There was no hesitation in my offering that forgiveness.  (And if there had been a fatted calf, I would have called for a celebration)

Before the night was over, we prayed and held each other as I am certain the father and son in Luke 15 did.  I cherish that night as no other except for the day of her birth.  Because I know just as her birth was a miracle, this re-birth of her faith in Christ was equally a miracle.  I share this to encourage you to remain faithful.  Trust God with your prodigal and recognize in yourself those times when perhaps you are the prodigal for your own parents and for your Heavenly Lord God.

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This week’s devotional series is written by a woman who has experienced the challenge of watching her daughter turn away from the things she once held dear.  Parenting a Prodigal isn’t easy and God has revealed some Real Truth’s to this mom in the midst of her Real Life story.  For part one, just click Given the Time .

In Luke 15, the Father of the Prodigal, as with our Heavenly Father, did not presume his sons “owed” him.  Further, he must have been consistently generous with his money and his love through the years because his sons recognized a level of independence and freedom or, in that culture and time, the youngest would not have been able to ask for a division of assets and leave.

The Father of the Prodigal, as with our Heavenly Father, knew enough to hold his sons loosely—not controlling with a closed fist mind-set.

My Heavenly Father loves me enough to allow me a long leash as I exercise my free will and make choices.  He allows me to make choices that take me outside His will and His best, yet loves me through those choices and uses the consequences to draw me back to His loving arms.  Psalm 23:6 assures us that God pursues us with His love even when we are prodigals.

Oh, to parent my child with that same unconditional love!   The example our Heavenly Father has set for us is summarized “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3.

It is easy as a parent to want to advise…to correct…to guide.  After all, because of our own past mistakes or experiences of age, we often see the direction their decisions are taking them.  Sometimes a parent feels obligated for his child’s own good, to point out things he knows the child doesn’t want to hear.  Believe me it would be so much easier to keep my mouth shut!  Except when you want that child to be the best he can be, you can’t.  Unfortunately, too often the way I handled presenting that guidance or advice wasn’t received well and only resulted in further alienation.  I have learned the truth of Proverbs 3:7-8 “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.  Instead, fear the Lord and turn your back on evil.  Then you will gain renewed health and vitality.”

Like the Father of the Prodigal, I have learned to watch and wait.  It isn’t easy, in fact, it is extremely difficult.  I hurt watching her make poor choices.  I find I have to isolate myself from much of her life for fear I will speak when I should keep my own counsel.  I work at saying “I love you” frequently.  The rest will have to wait.  But this I know, no matter the mistakes we make as parents in parenting, we can be assured that when we seek the Lord and give it our best that He will fill in the gaps.  Psalm 103:17 is God’s promise to future generations when we are faithful.

I believe those small faithful parenting steps I have taken through the years established solid principles of love that will allow her the strength to someday come back to her Heavenly Father and my loving arms.   Just as the Father of the Prodigal, my role now is to watch, wait and lean into the Lord God and Trust Him with the desires of my heart, Proverb 3:5-6.

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This week’s devotional series is written by a woman who has experienced the challenge of watching her daughter turn away from the things she once held dear.  Parenting a Prodigal isn’t easy and God has revealed some Real Truth’s to this mom in the midst of her Real Life story.  For part one, just click Given the Time .

The love of the Father in Luke 15 (the story of the Prodigal) is inspiring and challenges me as a parent.  As I continue to share with you my journey of parenting a Prodigal, I must begin today by saying this father has taught me a lot!

First, the Prodigal’s father was industrious to have built up an estate to the point that his young son even felt there was something to divide.  Did the father pass on this work ethic to his children by modeling this characteristic in a balanced manner, or did his son only see him as making work such a priority that there was never any time for family and relaxation?  Did the son believe the father didn’t have time for him…that everything was about work…was this a contributing factor to the rebellion?

There were too many years when my daughter would be picked up from school and taken back to my office where we would often eat fast-food take-out meals on the floor of my office and then she would play or handle homework while I worked until bedtime.  I thought she understood I was working so hard to make a living for us, but there was a point where she challenged my priorities and wasn’t even aware (I am certain even now) that she did.  While driving one day we were listening to a June Carter Cash song, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, and my daughter reflected that she wondered if it would take the undertaker driving slow for her to finally have time with me.  If you are unfamiliar with the lyrics of the song, you can find them at:  http://www.lyricsfreak.com/n/nitty+gritty+dirt+band/will+the+circle+be+unbroken_20101271.html

It isn’t always about making money to meet the needs and wants of your family that impacts a life and makes a difference.  The father of the Prodigal and my Heavenly Father have taught me it is about being present for your children in the moment, not just planning for “someday we will….”.

This conversation with my daughter was when she was a freshman.  Immediately, I changed my daily schedule to give her time that was for her alone each day…not time where she had to compete while I multi-tasked with professional responsibilities or other family obligations.  The dynamic change in our relationship resulted in solid, daily communication that continued from age 14 until 28.

One of the practical measures I did was leave my office everyday and pick her up from school.  Through all of high school, I was her ride home.  The result was lots of laughter as well as learning lots of details about her day rather than just “fine” in response to my question about how her day had gone.  I was present only for her.  It wasn’t easy.  I had to change how I worked…learning to be a very early riser and complete work while she was still sleeping.

Looking at the father in Luke 15, I wonder if he had to re-evaluate his priorities and make changes when his prodigal left for a different country. If so, he didn’t communicate that mind-set change to the older son who remained at home—it appears he didn’t effectively meet the emotional and spiritual needs of that son (but that is for another time).

Keeping my relationship with my daughter as a priority, yet in balance with my relationship with my spouse didn’t always succeed.  But I know that I consistently worked at it.  My Heavenly Father reminds me every day that I am a priority to Him and encourages me to make certain the “circle” of His love will be unbroken for her and my future grandchildren.  Trust in His love to help you too.  God’s parenting makes up for my shortcomings because I know He loves her more than I can ask or imagine.  (Ephesians 3:20).

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This week’s devotional series is written by a woman who has experienced the challenge of watching her daughter turn away from the things she once held dear.  Parenting a Prodigal isn’t easy and God has revealed some Real Truth’s to this mom in the midst of her Real Life story.  For part one, just click Given the Time .

Jesus begins the teaching in Luke 15 with three illustrations of lost items.  First, a lost sheep and, then a lost coin.  Both illustrations are related in eleven verses, but the illustration of the lost son (the Prodigal as we have come to name him), is shared over 22 verses.  I don’t believe this is coincidental, but rather adds to the message Christ wants all of us to understand—God’s hunger for us to have a personal relationship with Him and the value He places on us is greater than all else.  That humbles me, yet, wraps me in safety as nothing else can.

Praying for what the Lord would have me share in this devotional, I studied and reviewed the story numerous times and saw principles and significant elements I had never seen before.  I urge you to mediate on the story to see what insight God may offer you.  (Perhaps you would share a comment here).

The younger son (Luke 15:12) asked for his share of his father’s estate and the father agreed.  The son was presumptuous that he deserved a share and that there was an estate that would be available to him after his father died.  Clearly, the son knew his father would agree, which would indicate this son had been successful at persuading his father in the past.

How many times have I presumed my parents would be available to help with a move, to babysit, to give me a short-term loan, or offer an ear when I just needed to talk?  How many times do I presume with God that whatever I ask in prayer will be granted—in the way I have requested? 

After receiving a share of the estate, Jesus shared that the son “wasted all his money on wild living” (Luke 15:13).  First of all, it wasn’t his money—it was his father’s money.  Second, clearly he did not appreciate the value of the estate he had received.  Third, he thought life would be “better” in a “distant land” and, finally, he lived for the moment, not thinking with an eternal or even a long-term earthly perspective.

Oh, WOW! Did this hit me!  There has been so many times in my life that I wasted God’s assets—time, money, material and non-material resources He has bountifully blessed me with.  I have presumed He will take care of tomorrow’s needs sometimes to the point where one paycheck missed would mean we would be without home or food.  I do know God holds tomorrow, but He does call us to be good stewards of what He has blessed us with, including our health, our time, as well as financial and relational resources. 

Yet, the story doesn’t end with the failings of this young son.  Rather, Jesus goes on to illustrate the unconditional love and forgiveness of the father.  Tomorrow, I will share the lessons this father taught me and how I learned to be a better parent to my own prodigal and a more loving daughter to my Heavenly Father and earthly parents.

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