In the 15th chapter of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a father and his two sons. Usually, those verses are under a heading titled, “The Prodigal Son” and the focus of numerous lessons I’ve heard preached through the years typically seems to be on the wayward younger son. However, these days as I move to a different side of motherhood, the side where I have to start letting go, where I no longer choose who my child can hang out with or how his time is spent, this parable is teaching me something new. I feel a connection with the father and can only imagine how the experience would have felt from his perspective.
Initially when his son asked for a portion of the inheritance, it had to hurt his heart. In that day’s culture to have asked for an inheritance from the living was like saying, “I wish you were dead.” Then upon deciding to give the money and let his son do whatever he pleased, the father had to have assumed it might end badly. Don’t you wonder if people came to this dad while his son was away to share the latest news and gossip of his exploits? I can just imagine someone telling him about the rumored booze and prostitutes. Later on when the money was gone, maybe a well-intentioned neighbor told him how his boy was now slopping pigs to earn a living. Don’t you suppose that in knowing, he would want to march right into that town and yank him back home?
How about if he never heard a thing about his son? In this era in which we live, this time of cell phones and texting, I have panic attacks when I don’t hear from my kids several times a day. Can you imagine if he had no idea whether his child was alive or dead? If it were you, wouldn’t you want to hire a private investigator, or go yourself and look? I have no doubt that this dad worried, that he cried out to God, that he wondered where he went wrong, but he also put aside all those feelings and he waited, patiently. Then when the wait was over, he welcomed his son home eagerly and with great joy.
If, like me, you have concerns over choices your child is making but need to let go as the father in Scripture did, take heart in the waiting–for God gives us hope.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 12:7 The wicked are destroyed and are no more, but the family of the righteous will endure.
Proverbs 11:21 The evil person will surely not go unpunished, but the children of the righteous will escape.