I remember the night our son left home… I was nursing a newborn baby, the fragrance of the milky breath and tender cheeks and snuggly baby clothes was intoxicating. And as I sat holding that baby close to my heart, another ‘baby’ was walking out the door and I thought at that moment I would die. Maybe I even wished it would be so.
I had never known a deeper grief and a more paralyzing moment of despair. It was a strange mix of failure, disappointment, loss, hopelessness, regret, shame, remorse, shock, doubt, frustration, and sadness all wrapped up in a blanket — memories I still seemed to hold in my arms, yet the baby was no longer a baby – he was a young man – eager to seek his own way.
Time passed and as time has a way of doing, so did a lot of those feelings or, rather, their intensity lessened over time. And I more completely accepted responsibility that the initial shock had masked. Initially, I wondered, what in the world had I done or not done to deserve that or to have that happen. But time had a way of revealing things that I had blindly missed. And, thankfully, time sort of softens the rough edges and the jagged memories. A bit. Not quite a bit, but a bit, nonetheless.
Night after night as I would lie down in my bed and watch the memories play on the ceiling in the dark — my eyes hot with tears… and tears rolling down my face and into my ears, I would wonder how to make things right, how to correct the host of wrongs and the poor decisions. Night after night, season after season… the same thing. At first, I would practically jump when the phone would ring. I didn’t jump with delight, but with fear. Instantly that ring would trigger a wave of fear and dread. But my fears were not realized and my tears did not result in joy. But fears and tears turned to prayers through the years. Time softened my heart – revealed my failings and developed compassion for that prodigal son.
I would love to have had the next sentence read:
“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father.”
And then, I wish I could tell you that Wes, seeing the son: “…when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
And then I wish I could tell you here that at that moment: “…the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.”
And that Wes’s response was: “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”
And if any of our other children possibly felt jealous of all the loving attention, that Wes had said to all of them: ” Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. ” And if any were resentful – which I fully believe they would NOT be, that it would be said of Wes: “… therefore came his father out, and intreated him [them]…” And that he would continue reasoning: “Son [and family…], thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”
(This, from Luke 15. 13-32)
All of that did not happen here, yet. But what I can say is this: There has never been a day where that son escaped the gaze or notice of the LORD and there has never been a day from that day to this that God was not sovereign, that He did not work or did not provide or did not watch over that son or this family. There has never been a time where the will and way of the LORD was not done.
And for that reason, while I no longer grieve in the outward manner I did, I no longer cry or worry in the same manner I did, there has never been a day where I did not have hope in the LORD for that son. For the LORD is faithful; and in Him I will yet hope more and more. I used to pray the LORD would do whatever it took to draw that son back to Himself.
I now pray: Lord, will You carry my boy in Your arms and will You be tender to him as you have been to me? Will you draw Him back to Yourself and bless Him – and if You bless him even half as much as You have blessed me, well then, even the ocean could not contain the blessings… for I know the love of God is stretched from sky to sky. And I pray, Lord, will You please go easy on the boy? I love him and I pray You will give him many days to give You great glory.
My prayer for mothers of prodigals… “Lord, will You carry these tender hearts and comfort and help them to see You, to seek You and to trust You. Lord will You comfort them in their distress and give them hope that can only be realized in knowing You. And, Lord, will You keep Your eye on that child that his life will not end in shambles but in giving You glory. Thank You, Lord, that You are only wise, only faithful, only good – and we praise You.”