Hope for parents of a Prodigal

If you are a parent of adult children, you know that the joys and sorrows of parenting don’t stop when your kids leave the nest, in fact as my wife and I are discovering, these emotions only intensify especially if one of your children is not walking with the Lord.

For years, as a young parent, I stored Proverbs 22:6 in my heart as a rallying cry to train up my children in the way of the Cross of Jesus Christ and when they are older they will NOT depart from it. Though I always knew that the book of Proverbs is not a list of 100% guarantees, but rather words of wisdom of general truths, I always felt confident that my kids would indeed grow up and follow Jesus. As you can probably guess by now, I have discovered this isn’t always the case. As we say in the Army, “The enemy gets a vote!” In this case, the sinful, fallen nature in my son has gotten a vote and for now it’s to actively disbelieve and go his own way. What is a parent to do?

Well, we could wallow in guilt and self-condemnation but that won’t do any good. No parent is perfect, and ultimately, we trust the Lord to work in our kids’ lives despite our sins and failings. We could decide to condemn our child and heap words of doom and gloom upon them but this is really just a defense mechanism to protect yourself from feeling sorrow and anguish isn’t it? If I am angry at my child for not following Jesus, then I can avoid feeling grief and sorrow over this very real loss in Christian fellowship with my child.

What is left to parents of a prodigal but GRIEVE with HOPE and to continue to pray and sow seeds as the Lord allows in the life their child? To this end, let me encourage you with a thought we received from a recent devotional written by Dr. Carl Trueman. He writes, “When I was faced by parents who are struggling with kids who had wandered away, I’d always point them to the second thief (on the cross next to Jesus) and say, When does the second thief learn this stuff (that God is holy, he is a sinner and he asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into his kingdom (Luke 23))? It’s possible God’s zapped it into his brain where he’s hanging on the cross, but the text doesn’t tell us that. And if the text doesn’t tell us that we should look for more mundane reasons. Well, I think what happened was that that young man was well taught when he was small. His parents taught him well. They taught him the word of God.”

Wow, that really blessed my wife’s and my heart as we think of our son, out in the world on his own apart from our Savior. We pray for the day when all those seeds planted in him, taught by us, year after year, will again take seed and grow. We hope it doesn’t take an event as extreme as a “crucifixion,” but if that’s what it takes, “Lord have mercy on our son’s soul!” I pray the truths above help you if you if you too have a child who is a prodigal.

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