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Archive for February 21st, 2019

So you ever want to tell your adult child what to do? what not to do?

Not me (insert sarcasm)! Of course I do! And sometimes I give in to the impulse and speak my wisdom for their not-listening ears to ignore.

The other day I wrote, in Parental Responsibilities, about how our job, as parents, is not to plan the lives of our kids.

Today, I am going to share an example from the Bible of one who did it right. By “did it right” I do not mean that pain and suffering were elevated, perfection was achieved by following a list of if thens or that they all lived happily ever after. So, right now you might be doubting this unnamed example … stick with me.

In Luke 15:12- :

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country … and there squandered his wealth in wild living.”

A young man, in his infinite wisdom, decided that he was an autonomous adult, well-aware of the world, confident in his worldly ways, and he wanted to taste freedom.

In his premature eagerness to live independent of dear ‘ol dad, he went to his father and asked for his inheritance.

Lets look at what this father did. His son, who he loves, asks for his money (since it is his inheritance, this young man should not be receiving it from his father until his father has died) … and “he divided his property”. He just gave him the money!

I am a mom. I have wrestled with wanting to help my kids, to give wisdom when they won’t hear it, to encourage them to get out more, to stay in more, to call their mom more. I have wrestled with their not going to a church, and with what church they go to. I have wrestled with who their friends are, and aren’t. I have wrestled with what they are wearing (or what is missing from what they are wearing), what (and who) they are listening to and what they are saying.

And I have lay, motionless in bed, as they head out the door, praying that they will be safe, be with good reliable friends, be wise.

And I wonder (I really do), should I put my foot down and just say NO! No, you cannot go out at this hour! No, you cannot go there! No, you cannot do that!

So I come back to the story of the ‘model’ dad in the Bible … better known as the father of the prodigal son. This father must have known what his young son would do with the money. He must have known the dangers that awaited his naive man-child. Yet, he gave him the money … the money that, he knew, would make his son’s choices less wise and more danger-filled.

Why did he do it? What was he thinking? And why should he and his parenting be a model for us?

After his son had left he must have known what would befall this child of his as he arrived in the ‘big city’ with pockets full of money and brain still devoid of wisdom. This father must have tossed and turned more than slept.

We are told that, once in the new place, his son “squandered his wealth in wild living.” I don’t think that wild living then was any different than now. There were and are drugs, alcohol, crime, violence, gambling, people who would help him spend his money and the availability of the world’s oldest profession (and the sexually transmitted diseases that accompany such practices).

That father had to have known that this is exactly what would have occurred.

Yet, he agreed to give him the money …

model father?

This father, who loved his son(s) knew that his son(s) would only truly understand and love him, in return, if they chose it of their own. He had done the tasks of loving parenthood, of providing everything parental responsibility required, yet, he knew that they would only fully receive his love by choosing it of their own free will. He knew that this son was choosing a dangerous path, but he also knew the seeds that he had planted in him from birth, and had hope that they would haunt him like a hound.

The story goes on:

“After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

And the hound was closing in.

And the seed, so long in the dry ground, began to germinate.

And the son, not out of love for his father, but out of his own physical need, turned towards home, towards his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

There is much in those words. Parents who love their children not just read but feel what the father here felt. The love, the compassion, the relief … for the running away of the son culminated in the the run of the father, to his son.

For the child cannot outrun the love of the father, the mother.

He ran to his son, not repulsed by the son’s loss of his money, his ‘wild living’, his sins … but eager to receive him home, where the door is always open, where forgiveness always lives, where arms are outstretched … where the parents still run to the prodigal.

As CS Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “the great thing to remember is that … His (God’s) love for us … is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.”

One of my favourite poems is The Hound of Heaven, by Francis Thompson. Written over a hundred years ago, it tells of how Thompson viewed running away from God, and how, like a bloodthirsty hound on the moors, God perseveres, chases and pursues us until we surrender to Him.

John Stott, in his book Why I am a Christian,” confesses that he is a Christian not because of the influence of his parents and teachers, nor to his own personal decision, but to being relentlessly pursued by ‘the Hound of Heaven’, that is, Jesus Christ himself.”

So, this model father of the Bible, why is he a model?

Quite simply because this father of the prodigal son is God himself.

He, who said yes, to handing over our inheritance into our immature, naive and arrogant hands.

He, who loves us enough to allow us to choose to receive and accept his love.

He, who desires to redeem our brokenness, our sin, if only we would recognize that the hunger in the pit of our stomach cannot be filled by anything in the world.

He, who is always, always, waiting at the gate, searching the horizon, ready to run … not just after our children, but after us, as well.


“This won’t last, it’s not the end … it’s not the end”

Behold what manner of love
The Father has given unto us,
That we should be called the sons of God

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