Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘prodigal’

“The great battle of our spiritual lives is ‘Will you believe?’  It is not, ‘Will you try harder?’ or ‘Can you make yourself Worthy?’  It is squarely a matter of believing that God will do what only he can do.”

-Jim Cymbala

I’ve read about Chrissy.  Raised as a pastor’s daughter in a loving home, she deserted her faith and family.  For two years, Chrissy’s parents lived a nightmare–unsure their beloved child was safe or warm–and wondering  if she would ever return home.

One evening, Pastor Cymbala asked his congregation to intercede on Chrissy’s behalf.  And those gathered at church that night lifted their voices to heaven beseeching the heavenly Father to rescue one who had been stolen.  Two days later, the lost daughter knocked on her father’s door.  She was finally home.

This story is an incredible encouragement to me.  It gives me hope for my own prodigal.

While he wasn’t born into a pastor’s family, our prodigal’s story began in a Christian home.  We prayed over our child, dedicated him to the Lord, and read scripture together.  His gentle spirit responded to God’s and this precious blonde haired, blue eyed child invited Jesus to be his savior when he was almost five years old.

Our shy little boy told other children about Jesus…raced to the car in his red AWANA vest eager to go to church…and began growing in his own faith.  Several years later, one life altering moment shattered everything in Benjamin’s life.  Unaware of the his pain, my husband and I were confused by the sudden change in Ben’s personality and choices.

This was the moment that opened the door and allowed the enemy access.  He stole one who rightfully belongs to God.

Since then, I have battled on myknees.  I have begged God to loose the chains…to “replace the heart of stone”…to return our prodigal to us.  Still, the enemy holds fast–reluctant to give up the child we claimed for Christ before he was ever born.  But I am convinced there is more to this story…that God has a better plan for Ben…that one day God will replace the deadness in my boy’s eyes with the light of joy and that words of praise will flow from the lips of the son who now utters words that deny His power.

As my brothers and sisters in Christ, can I be vulnerable with you?  After not having seen Benjamin for several weeks, yesterday we stopped by the apartment where he is staying.  We stood awkwardly in the doorway…invited him to dinner…asked about his plans.

Giving each of us a hug he quietly asked, “Can you please leave?”

Reluctantly walking down the rickety iron steps, I imagined our unspoken conversation.

Why are you here?  Don’t you realize I’ve cut you out of my life?                                                                                                     

Yes, son, but we love you just as God does–without condition.

I feel so alone in this life.  teddy-828506_640                                                                                                                                                           

You don’t need to walk this road alone.  We are here–and there is one whose loving presence is ever-constant. Call out to Him, my son.  He will never leave you or forsake you!  

But the words were never spoken and my son sleeps on the floor of a one room apartment.  What does he eat?  Is he safe?  And I wake during the sleeping hours to pray.

And today I follow Jim Cymbala’s example.  Friends–in all humility can I lay my heartache before you?  Would you please pray for Benjamin?  I believe he is at a critical juncture and I am pleading with God that in his mercy He will do a work in Ben’s life..that he will set the prisoner free…that he will rescue that which has been lost.

If we share in the same journey, would you also gift me with the opportunity to pray for your prodigal?  Let’s pray our prodigals home!

Scripture for Reflection

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear to dull to hear.  (Isaiah 59:1)

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:30-31)

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42:3)

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

Read Full Post »

God shapes the world by prayer.  Prayers are deathless.  The lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them.  Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.  –E.M. Bounds

If you have a share in a story like mine, you understand the pain of loving a prodigal.  Your prodigal might be a spouse, a parent–or, like so many, a treasured and precious child. I know my experience is far from singular.

The Christian speaker’s adult child has turned from God to alcohol….the Sunday School teacher’s son glares at the clock as the passing of each day reminds him the iron bars are a visual representation of  choices that have bound him to more than this place…the adopted child raised “in the fear and admonition of The Lord” lives for the next high…and, for at least the last four years my own son has walked a painful path–his soul searching for fulfillment in a lifestyle devoid of the God he trusted as an innocent boy.

And that painful path?  He may not realize it….or may even resent it–but, my heart has been with him the entire time.  Like Mary, I feel “as if a sword had pierced my own soul”.  But, I refuse to give up the fight for this is “not a battle against flesh and blood…but against the powers of this dark world”.

Above all, I know that neither your prodigal nor mine wanders alone.  In the dead of the night…when the lion of this world prowls about seeking to satisfy his gluttonous hunger, the Lion of Judah stands strong and vigilant–the eternal victor who “will contend with those contend with you, and your children I will save”.

Be encouraged, Friend, and continue to pray on behalf of those who refuse to pray for themselves.  If you do not have a prodigal in your life, then pray–without judging–for someone who does.

Scripture for Reflection

Ephesians 1:18-19

John 16:33

Read Full Post »

The imperfect Christmas unfolded like a crumpled piece of gift wrap–its bright colors diminished by the absence of a firstborn son and a father more dedicated to the child than the comforts of home.  And I think of the journey he made yesterday in a quest to lavish love on one who may not understand–a love with its source from above…and within.  A love patterned after the One who is Christmas incarnate.

That first Christmas?  The One who is Christmas left His glorious home and chose mortal flesh; His immortal glory shrouded by helpless  mortality.  The God whose breath filled the lungs of the first Adam now inhaled–the unpracticed movement of the babe foreshadowing the shallow breathing of a soon-to-be Savior gasping on a crude, wooden cross.

That Christmas?  God’s firstborn son had forsaken the comforts of His heavenly home. Stripped of His heavenly robes, the Christ lay helpless and shivering…cloaked in nothing more than rags.  And I think of the journey he made in a quest to lavish love on those who may not understand–that the imperfect might one day be made perfect.  

 

Verse for Reflection

For unto us a son is born; unto us a son is given…     Isaiah 9:6

 

Read Full Post »

Man walking away at dawn along road

The Prodigal walks the lonely road–determined…defiant…desperate.                                                                                                                                       Knowing his need, but unwilling to turn back he heads aimlessly onward.  Each weary step echoing his thoughts, “Help me. Help me. Help me.”

And The Prodigal’s father works hour after hour– captured by his unrelenting schedule–only to be greeted by the weight of sorrow and concern at the day’s end .  The Prodigal’s mother feels as if life moves as slowly and methodically as the boy on the lonely road.  Let me help.  Let me help.  Let me help.

But there is no word from the boy and the mother wonders, “Where is my boy sleeping tonight?” And she prays that God’s very warmth and presence would surround the Prodigal.  Then, she waits for tomorrow.

Scripture for Reflection

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”  Luke 15: 4-7

Read Full Post »

My dear son (daughter),

I am taking a chance and hoping you will set aside your anger long enough to read this letter.  Honey, I know you feel like I keep hounding for things you are doing.  Please, try to understand that I would never put you through any kind of pain if I believed there were an alternative.  Instead, I want to spare you from long-term hurt and pain in your life because of foolish or immature decisions.

In my heart, I pray my concerns are unfounded.  Given some of your previous experiences, though, I felt it necessary to protect you—even if that means I have to suffer your disdain and anger.  The anguish I am currently feeling is only surpassed by my love for you.

Please know there is nothing you can ever say or do to make me love you less.  You are, and always will be, a special treasure in my life.  You may not believe it, my son (daughter), but I am your champion.  I believe in you and see such potential just waiting to be tapped.  If you will seek the Lord, I believe He will do amazing things through you to impact the lives of others—I trust you are going to make a difference in this world!

Even before you were born, your dad and I prayed God would claim you as His own child; that He would protect you; and that you would recognize Him as not just your Savior but also the Lord of your life.  My precious boy (girl), I urge you to renew your commitment to Christ.  Turn back to what you know as true before the Holy Spirit has been quenched and your heart is unwilling.

Trust in the love your dad and I have for you.  Above all, trust in the one who formed you and knew you before Creation.

Your loving mother,

Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Read Full Post »

Gene pool?  Birth order?  God’s design.  It’s a mystery, but our children are different in defining, beautiful ways.  One is a rule-follower and lives life as if there are no shades of gray.  The other thinks outside of the box and bends the rules–challenging for his parents, but a trait that holds promise if used for God’s glory.

Both keep me on my knees–battling against two disparate traps–perfectionism and rebellion.  I believe God wants me there.  Interceding.  Calling out.  Relying on the one called Abba, Father.  If you are in the same position,  praise God for teaching you to rely on his bountiful grace and mercy.  Do you remember His words?   “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

If my fallible heart can be so consumed with love for my children; grief for their suffering; and yearning for Godly living then how much more must God love His own?  Dear friend, He gave everything-position, power, prominence–to give up Himself for us.  Are you amazed?  Then have faith!  Claim His promises for the children He has given you.  It doesn’t matter if they are newborns, teens, or middle-aged.

There is hope.  There is tomorrow.  There is Christ.

Action Steps for Today

  • List 3-5 ways you can pray for your child.  Track each prayer request and check it off as it is answered.
  • Commit to praying with another parent. We need other people to pray for our children, marriages, and families.

Recommended Reading

Read Full Post »

There’s always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. Graham Greene

From the beginning, my ideas about parenting were flawed. I thought of it almost like a mathematical formula. If Dave and I just plugged in the right amount of love, guidance, and opportunity then our kids would follow Christ unswervingly, rebuff mainstream culture, and discover their passion in life. Rebellion? Struggles with identity? Not a chance–after all, a(b)=ab.

Of course, you already know how wrong my assumptions were. Even when Dave and I do everything we can to keep our children from hardship or lead them toward a faith in Christ, they  need to make their own choices, decisions–even mistakes. Just like we did (and do).

But, I believe those choices and mistakes will result in something more beautiful and powerful than I could have imagined. The one who is struggling to understand how (and if) his faith intersects with life? He’ll embrace Christ and discover his purpose–the reason he was created–when God draws Him close; not because his mother made the decision for him. And the boy who wants to do everything perfectly? He’ll encounter freedom in amazing ways. Freedom from unattainable standards. Freedom from concern. Freedom in Christ–because of Christ.

This doesn’t let me off the hook in any way. Being a parent means I continue to invest my love, time, and limited abilities in the lives of my children every day. But, I need to take a deep breath and remember that if there were a simple parenting formula then I wouldn’t need to rely on God in this messy, wonderful, overwhelming business of raising children.

Instead, I’m on my knees, in prayer, and dependant on the One who loves my children even more than I do.

3 Reminders for Stressed Parents

God knows our children intimately

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
   The days of my life all prepared
      before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139-15:16)

When we don’t know what to do for our children, rely on the promises of Scripture

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

Trust God’s decision to put these children in your care.  He will work through our parenting–despite our imperfection.

God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: