Hope for the Parent of a Prodigal

On Monday morning when I was having my Quiet time, I was thanking the Lord for the blessings of the day before.  My heart was full of the joy of seeing Andrew continue to follow the Lord’s leading in his life, and then my thoughts went to Alli, his wife, and our daughter.  Yes, I thought about her standing beside him Sunday, tears puddling in her eyes.  I remembered the pride and the awe that glowed from her expressions, but there was something far deeper that came to my heart as I prayed on Monday morning.

My heart and mind went back to Alli’s mid to late teen years.  I have a clear memory of kneeling beside her bed one night, asking her to tell me the assurance of her salvation.  Due to attitudes, actions and heart responses, it was obvious that she was distant from the Lord.  My mother’s heart wondered if it was because she wasn’t truly saved, or if it was due to the fact that her heart had become cold; that she was backslidden.  That night she told me of her salvation as a child, and knew in her heart it was anchored in God’s promises to save her if she would call on Him.  That was good to hear, but it was obvious that things weren’t right, that she wasn’t really living and enjoying the relationship with the God who came to seek and save her.

My husband and I continued to pray.  Every time we had a service I’d pray she would get right.  Every time she attended a revival, I was looking for that to be her day to return to a close walk with the Lord. But still she resisted and I waited, and in truth, I wondered why the Lord  wasn’t answering my prayers.  I knew He wanted her to draw near to Him, but I couldn’t see anything happening, and my heart was so very heavy.

Her cool heart revealed itself by apathy towards spiritual things.    There were attitudes and sighs and shrugging of the shoulders, an unconcern about others and a centering of her thoughts on self.  John writes that

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. III John 4

While there is no greater joy, I doubt there is any greater sorrow than for a parent to see their child not walking in truth.
But what I didn’t see was what the Lord was doing in her heart.  I didn’t see the future issues that He would bring that would humble her and make her so needy for what only He could do.

But it did happen! It didn’t take place overnight or in one mighty swoop. It happened little by little. There was a gradual turning of her heart, a realization that true life is only found in Christ. I would hear it in the same way I’d seen the coldness – her attitudes, her words, her actions. There was a tenderness and a care for others, a desire to be in His Word and with His people. God answered by bringing other people into her life, hard situations, and the preaching of the Word. But I couldn’t see its gradual creeping into her life. It was like the snow clouds gathering, unbeknownst to us, then we awaken to three inches on the ground. It was happening all along while we were busy with other matters.

The God of the snow is the God of our children. He is sovereign. He cares and He is at work. I don’t share this story to embarrass Alli, but to give hope to many parents who are burdened for their children. I know Alli’s heart would want to encourage you as well. Don’t quit praying. Don’t wonder where God is and when He will answer. He is eternal, therefore, time doesn’t matter to Him. What I didn’t understand at the time was that the Lord was wanting to teach me as much as He wanted to teach Alli. I learned about His character better in those years than I would have otherwise. The hard part for parents is that we can see the prodigal. We can hear their sarcasm and denials, but we cannot see what God is doing, and so we doubt. In truth, as I thanked the Lord on Monday for the work He’d done in my daughter’s life, those years of praying seemed very short. While I prayed and waited, it seemed like an eternity, but it wasn’t. God worked perfectly in all regards, as He will always do because He is a perfect God.

So, mom, keep praying. Keep trusting your sovereign, eternal God. He is at work. One day you’ll be on your knees, tears of joy streaming down your face for how wonderfully he has answered! He is at work. Trust Him even when you cannot see.

With tears of joy,

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