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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Prodigals and Pigs

Having a child who struggles with drug addiction, I’ve thought a lot about prodigals.

In reading the story of the prodigal son, one thing leaped out at me: the son had the decency to debauch himself away from his father; the father wasn’t forced to watch his son kill himself by increments. Those of us who have not had that—dare I say it—luxury can have wounds that furrow deep. We look at our enslaved children and remember them as they were and as they truly are divorced from addiction. Images of innocent smiling faces and eyes that were once lit with the excitement of discovery are now dimmed by the life-sucking demands of their addiction. I think it especially bitter when that child has been in vibrant relationship with Christ but backslides. 

Having a child who struggles with drug addiction, I’ve thought a lot about pigs.

I’ve often wondered when my son will come to his senses like the prodigal did. How long will he remain comfortable in the pigpen with the stench of manure in his nostrils? How long will a life mired in muck and decay appeal to him? What will it take to cause him to have the same pigpen experience as did the prodigal? When, oh, God in heaven, will he come to his senses?

What happens when you’ve run out of words to pray? 

I've prayed for my prodigal for decades. What happens when there’s nothing left to pray but the same thing you prayed yesterday, and last week, and last year? I hit this wall and as always, God intervened--what a faithful God we serve! Kneeling night after night pleading for my son without seeing any visible results, I simply asked God the question: What do I pray when I’ve exhausted the limits of my vocabulary? Jesus, I don’t know what to pray anymore.”

Our Savior is incredibly attentive.

The answer came not then, but a few days later. I happen to be reading in Luke 22:31-33. Jesus is speaking to Peter, explaining that Peter was about to deny that he even knew Jesus. Jesus said, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.”

Notice Jesus didn't ask God to protect Peter from the pain of his choice. Notice Jesus didn't ask God to protect Peter from the consequences of his decisions. Jesus did ask that Peter’s faith would not fail, that his faith would survive the ravages of the pigpen. 

What powerful and positive instruction the Lord gave me that day. From that time to this, I pray that my son’s faith will not fail and I have complete confidence in the fact that God has heard and is working. The Luke passage of Scripture reiterates that fact. 

Jesus finishes His statement to Peter by one marvelous little word that packs a ton of hope: When. He said, “when you have returned to me…” Done deal. The teaching is this: pray for your prodigal every day knowing that God is actively working to get him/her to the when. Pray that their faith will not fail no matter what. And when they have recovered, they will return to Christ, and God will use them mightily.

Hold onto that promise.

3 comments:

Miss Holly said...

Very well said. I especially like the reminder that he didn't try to prevent the natural consequences of his choice.

Jenny Mertes said...

Beautifully written, Debbi. It encourages me to pray on, even when my faith would fail, for those I love who aren't walking with Christ.

Deborah Vaughn said...

Jenny: I agree. I am in awe of a Savior who always leads us in victory. For your loved ones, I will also pray.

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