I had to ask myself this before I started these blog posts because the discussion at hand was on the privacy and need for discretion related to our older children. So I thought about why I would write about a prodigal child.
1) I am not the only mom living with this reality.
2) I wish that someone else was writing about this so that I could learn from her.
3) In the absence of someone else writing about it, I decided that I would focus on writing what God has been teaching me in this reality.
4) I cannot ignore this reality with myself or with my child. If there was ever a call for honesty regarding the realities of eternity, it is now.
5) I love my son, and in all things I undertake to treat him with respect and love. Bold truth spoken in love is taking its form this way, for now.
6) Do not presume that I have told all things. I understand discretion.
7) I desire for God to be glorified in this reality though it reveal my many sins and errors. God will be glorified in my son's life whether in salvation or in judgment.
I imagine #7 bothers you the most. More about that later.
First, so I know that I am not the only mom living with this reality. But as I alluded to in my first post, mom get togethers, no matter the age of your child, focus more on the accomplishments and transcript building achievements than they do on the how do you say, "dirty laundry" events of life.
Usually, if I hear from a mom who also has a prodigal child, she is typically much older than I and the child is a grown adult who has left the home and is living on his or her own and is not going to church. About half of those conversations then also include the phrase, "But I know she/he accepted Christ as a child so I am praying that she/he will one day return to the church."
Honestly, I do not know how to respond to this statement. While yes, I know specifically of a time when this son told me that he prayed to receive Christ as His Lord and Savior, I have witnessed multiple life years of seeing no fruit, no repentance, no desire to grow, distaste for things of God, spurning of values and beliefs, and clearly spoken statements to the effect that he does not believe.
Now of course, I am not some hard-boiled pessimist who never hopes. I am, however, a realist when it comes to God's Word and what He says does or does not demonstrate life in Him. I regularly wrestle with the parable of the sower, wondering if seed that falls on the rocky places and springs up quickly, then withers because it has no root is a definite only verdict. My wrestling leads me to prayer and in prayer I ask God to prepare the soil of this son's heart, for I know that constantly His word, His seed, goes out. I do not believe in a complacent trust for a long past VBS prayer of current zero result. For even if said prayer was authentic, I am praying for a life that demonstrates the work of the Holy Spirit.
The hard part always circles back to my own sin as it is easy to fall into pious responses that communicate lack of love for him, i.e. holier than thou conversation does not create a winsome witness. So while not every interaction of words and actions between us will DECLARE the gospel, "I am cooking this dinner for you because God has provided spaghetti for us sinners tonight just as God has provided Jesus for salvation. Will you believe? Take and eat!" Every interchange of words and actions between us should declare the gospel, "Supper is ready. Let's pray."
Loving him by serving. Praying for his day. Asking about his day. Offering help with his school and activities. Being present when he talks. Appreciating his art and music. Even disciplining him when necessary with grace. All interactions of words and actions are to declare the gospel. That is the hard to live out work of the day.
I know that I am not the only mom living with this reality of a prodigal child. To that mom, I am listening. How are you living out the day to day gospel before your child? What will you share with me in how to persevere?