Ref: Luke 15:11-32
I spoke with a friend a day or two ago. She was concerned because her son was getting old enough to leave the fold now. She was concerned with the usual things that we as parents get concerned about. If you have lived through this, or are currently going through this situation, then you know what I am talking about. This is a heart wrenching time for a parent. It has been 18 years where the mom and dad have been caring for the needs of their child. They have tried hard to prepare them for this inevitable day. All their hopes and aspirations are tied up in the fruition of the life of labor and love they have poured into their little baby, who is now a young adult. Have they been good parents?
What if their young one fails? How will they be able to help? Will their child ask for help? Did I prepare them enough for them to be successful? But probably the most heart wrenching question for a Christian parent is, “Will they continue in their faith?” Will they walk away from God and never return?
In a study done by Lifeway Research, author Ed Stetzer, relays that 70 percent of high school students who attended church on a regular basis, for at least one year, will stop going to church during their years of higher education. There are allot of reasons for this, but most do not intentionally stop going to church. That is, it is not that they could not wait to get away from their oppressive Christian parents so that they could leave their archaic religion. Most just get caught up in their new busy life. Juggling of study, school, work, and the development of new friendships distract them from their previous priorities. Some will get distracted for a while, maybe some for several years, but most will eventually return. Probably when they start their own families. There are a few who will get distracted far beyond measure. Some will forsake their childhood upbringing in favor of some college professor’s views, or do the world views on life, sex, and politics that permeate the college campuses. We can find throughout scripture examples to prove that the Lord does not abandon his children.
In Luke chapter 15 we find the story of the prodigal son. In this story the youngest son makes a plea for his half of the inheritance and leaves home. This rebellious son then squanders his fortunes in a foreign land and winds up being homeless and penniless. After much soul searching he decides to return home and beg forgiveness in hopes that he can work on the family estate as a hired hand. When he returns his father is overjoyed. The father’s love overflows from deep in his heart and he rejoices over the return of his son with a great feast and a party. The oldest son, who remained obedient is put off with this forgiveness his younger sibling received. He is caught up in his own selfish interests to see the miracle that has happened.
This story has many different points at which we can tear it apart and find some universal truth or a great life application. I have many times used this parable as a part of my testimony, because I was also a wayward son who had returned. If you are not familiar with this story it can be found in Luke 15:11-32.
Here in this passage we see a man that did everything right. He raised his kids in a God-fearing home. He taught them the value of good hard work. He taught them about the Lord. He taught him the customs of their people, and how to be good men. He instructed them in the way of their faith. Yet one of his children fell away. This is the case for many of us parents.
We can teach, and discipline, and hold our breath till we are blue in the face, but some of our children will go away form their faith. We can do everything right. Still our loved one abandons the truth and rebels against God. I should also mention that we can do everything wrong, and yet our child finds God. The point here is that faith is a personal decision. Our job is to pray for them, teach them, and reinforce the instructions of life and hope in Christ. Teach them the wisdom of knowing God and the advantages of living a godly lifestyle. We are to give them an understanding of God that they can use in life’s decisions. But the decision is up to them. Each man (woman) is responsible to God for themselves. This is why the father rejoiced.
The father in Luke 15 knew when his son asked for his share of the inheritance and left that he was already lost before his feet his the road. He also knew that he could not stop him. He knew that while his son was in rebellion that he was already dead spiritually. I am sure that his heart was broken. Something that we cannot miss though. The father knew his son had to make the decisions.
When his youngest son asked for the money his father did not argue with him. His father could have told him, that money is not yours yet, you do not have a right to it. His father could have drilled him with all kinds of questions, he could told him how foolish he was, and what a bad son he is. He could have struck out in anger. The father had all of the authority and right to do any or all of these things. Instead he listened. He gave his son an opportunity to learn a life lesson that his son needed.
This father also trusted God to return his son to his faith. The father knew that the son in his heart did believe in God and that this little light of faith would be used by God to steer him home. I am sure he held onto Proverbs 22:6. The father had hope. He knew that God loved his son also, just as much as he did. He knew that God would not abandon his son.
This hope is evident in verse 20 of Luke 15. It says, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.” This father was looking for the return of his son. He expected the Lord to deliver his son. He rose up and looked for him every day! We don’t know how long the timeframe is of the story, but it was long enough for the son to lose his inheritance, take a slum job, deal with starvation, and finally repent. The son swallowed his pride and came with full intention of making things write with his father no matter what the consequences.
This story can tell us so much about the love of God. When the son returned the father did not care where he had been, or what he had done. He only say his son. His baby was coming home. I think about this and I think about my own son. He is a grown man, but every time I look at him, I still see the little infant that I held for the first time at his birth. I know the heart of God by this memory. With all that I love my son and no matter what he has done or where he has been, I still see this little baby in my hands. That I like to think is the way that God sees each of us. This father in our story just saw his baby, crying and beaten up by life, returning home. This father who loved his son, put his arms around him. Nothing else mattered.
This is what Jesus made possible. No matter how far we go. No matter what we have done. No matter how rebellious we have been. Jesus made a path home for us, for our children. Have hope in the Lord. Your heavenly Father has not abandoned you, and will not abandon your son or daughter. Yes there are some hard lessons in life to learn. No we cannot shelter our children from consequences of their own decisions. However; we can have confidence that the Lord will never leave or forsake them.