I read plenty of blogs and books about forgiveness and grace and how the Father’s arms are open wide. I also read posts about hope for children as they grow and how everything will be ok. Really?
But what if you are in the position of the Dad in that story. (Luke 15:11-23) What if your child is still out there in the pig pen, even though you did the best you could. How do you get to the place of daily living and being ready to open those arms when and IF they return?
I love that picture of love, grace and forgiveness for the returning son. I am a true recipient of it. I was in the mud and the muck and my heavenly father lifted me right out of it. (Ps 40:2) I don’t even remember running to Him – He was just there, pulling me to himself, washing the grime and shame right off my face. He beckoned me and I went. Without that daily grace and love in my life I just know I would curl up in a ball and never function.
It’s that unconditional love that I have been given that stirs the desire in me to share it with everyone, especially my children. I want to be that person, patiently waiting with open arms, filled with love and grace. But what if that child doesn’t want it and what if they never come? And what about those times I just don’t think I can?
Nothing in life guarantees that the sweet toddler you can’t get enough of will grow into the adult you have envisioned. The reality is, they will grow up and be the person they want to be, and God will allow trials and consequences to grow and shape them. (James 1:2-4) You can love them till it hurts and it might not make a difference for a very long time or seemingly never at all. How then do you have hope and patience? How do you get through those times of blaming yourself, fear or regret?
One of my favorite verses is Phil 4:13. “You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.” We can do all things. We can love when it seems undeserved. We can bite our tongues when all we want to do is scream. (Col 3:12-13) We can pray continually and feel the flood of God’s peace fill our hearts and minds when all seems lost. (Phil 4:6-7) We can rest in the real hope that God is sovereign, and He can and will take care of everything, either in this world or the next. (Rom 8:28Ps 55:22) We can be that person, with open arms, without judgment, when the prodigal returns. Even if that child doesn’t return, we can cry out in the stillness of pain, and know that God is God and that can still be enough.
Find your peace and hope in the eternal Abba Father that is worthy of it. Love your children and enjoy the moments you have with them. It’s the closest example we have of how God loves us. Just never forget they belong to Him first, last and forever. We can do our humanly best, and even our worst, and God is still in control. I believe that’s how the Prodigal Son’s father did it. His hope was always in the sovereign One who made us all.
One of my favorite quotes is this: “Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.” Fernando Sabino
Sometimes the end takes a very long time to get here and sometimes it’s here in a flash. Either way, it’s never quite what we expected. But, if we’ve spent time dwelling in the awareness of the ever-present God, and we’ve learned to acknowledge Him in all our ways, when that end finally does arrive, we will be ok… And what a celebration it will be!…Really.