Waiting For the Prodigal’s Return

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/freedigitalphotos.net

Yesterday, my second daughter celebrated her birthday.  I say celebrated, but I really don’t know what she did. I didn’t hear from her. A first for us.

No matter how bad things have been in her life, she’s always contacted me around her birthday…usually to see if she can have money instead of a gift.  This year?  Nothing.

I don’t know how to process this.

She’s my prodigal daughter.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  Luke 15:  1-2

I believe Jesus chose his answers to this accusation specifically for the audience he spoke to that day but with an eye to our needs two thousand years later. Even though his answers demonstrated God’s joy over the salvation of any sinner, there are many lessons to learn from these parables.

The first parable is about the lost sheep.  (Luke 15:3-7)  People can relate to the loss of their livelihood.  I imagine many of those gathered to hear him speak owned livestock. Jesus chose the sheep to make this story personal for them.  Notice in this parable, the shepherd leaves the flock to find the lost one.

Next, he told the parable of the woman and the lost coin.  (Luke 15:8-10) The amount lost, in today’s terms, sounds like a pittance, but the coin represented a full day’s wages.  Again, he chose something people then, and today, can relate to. Who among us would not search high and low if we lost the equivalent of one day’s wages?  Again, the parable tells us that the woman searched, with the help of others, for her lost coin.

But Jesus finished with the story of the prodigal son.  (Luke 15:11-32)  He says a lot more about this one.

Why talk about a son who departs from the life he’s been given and chooses a sinful lifestyle?  This strikes us to the core.  We love our children.  We teach them the right way to live. When they choose differently, we mourn.

As in all of these parables, the lost item is found.  The prodigal does return, repentant of his behavior.

What’s different in the parable of the prodigal son?

The father does not seek out his son.  He watches for his return, but he doesn’t go and search for him.

This gives me hope. My prodigal did return once and walked a clean path for a long time, but something drew her away.  Will she come back? I have hope because Jesus told this parable. It tells me it’s ok to love her and let her do her own thing.  It’s ok to celebrate when she turns her back on her poor choices. Most importantly, this parable teaches me that it’s up to her to make that decision. Is it wrong to try to bring her back? No. But sometimes, we need to get out of the way and let the Lord do His work.

That’s the hard part.

Once our children become adults, we can’t control their destinies.  We must let them find their way and make mistakes. While they wander we pray for their return.

Until then, I will watch and wait.


Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/freedigitalphotos.net



10 thoughts on “Waiting For the Prodigal’s Return

  1. With reference to the post about the prodigal child, how many times should a prodigal be allowed to return home? Many children have been enabled to live as they want to then return home over and over when faced with a crisis. How would Jesus handle something like this?

    • Jane, I agree that there needs to be some standard for when the child returns home. My daughter has to demonstrate a changed lifestyle to return. As for “return home,” home is this sense may be back into the fold of the family not necessarily living with us. She is an adult in her thirties, afterall. Jesus did tell us to forgive seventy time seven, so I will always forgive her, but that doesn’t require me to forget what she’s done and act accordingly.

  2. Barbara, my brother’s stepdaughter was on the streets from age 19 until age 32, which was just over 3 years ago. She started college, found she was pregnant, finished her drug program early. She periodically disappeared and she and baby were positive for cocaine when baby was born. To make a long sad story short, she is now back on the streets refusing extensive drug rehab. Precious baby girl, placed by CPS with her brother and sister-in-law, cries daily wanting her mother. Dad has been in jail and is on drugs. The draw of drugs and, unbelievably, life on the streets has a strong hold on so many of that generation. I share this to say, I know the struggle the family has. Always wondering are they safe. Always puzzled why they choose such a life. Lean on Him. Praying for wisdom, discernment and peace. I am so sorry you must walk this experience. You and I kniw God will use your experience to touch others, maybe somehow save a child from that life.

    • Judy, the inability to recognize rock-bottom is astonishing to those of us who must stand by and watch this happen. This lifestyle works just like an addiction to many, and there is little we can do but pray and wait.

  3. Pingback: When the Prodigal Returns – The Workbench of Faith

  4. Pingback: What Makes Someone a Prodigal? – The Workbench of Faith

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