Thursday, June 26, 2014

Raising Hope

I have heard this story many times
I have read it for myself
But, for some reason it is only now that I wonder how he did it...
how he stood there and watched him walk away...

One of the wonderful things about the Bible is that it never gets old.
Just because a passage has been taught or read, 
does not always mean there is nothing left to learn from that passage.

Hence...the story of the prodigal son. Luke 15:11-32

As of late, my eyes have been opened to a particular facet of this parable. 
I have shared my thoughts with anyone who cared to listen.
I am still learning, 
still trying to fully understand.

In the past I have focused on the sons in this parable, 
but due to my current season in life, 
I have been more and more intrigued by the father.
I find myself feeling the depth of love and loss that he must have felt.

How did he do it?

Mind you, this parable is to point us back to our heavenly Father 
and how he never gives up on His children.

But, when I read this parable as a parent of young adult children, 
I find myself pondering...
How am I to respond to my own children 
when they do things that I know are not good for them?
What is my role when they leave home and decide 
that all the wisdom and investment that has been given to them 
is theirs to squander?

Although there is little written about the father of the prodigal son, 
because I too am a parent, I can imagine that
His heart was broken. 
And yet, we do not see even a hint of anger 
or negative emotional reaction to the actions of his son.

How did he do it?

I think on this even now, 
for I too have had my heart broken
In the breaking I felt 
taken advantage of....
I did not react as I should
The words that came out of my mouth, 
were from a place of pain and desperation.
I was not looking at the big picture, 
but instead at the heat of the moment.

But not this father...
He gave the son what he requested of him 
and then watched him walk away

He did not desperately run after him

He did not try to talk him into staying

There was no manipulation or enabling

He let him go...

How did he do it?

It does not tell us in scripture, 
but I have some thoughts after reading the whole story...
Could it be that as he watched his son walk away 
that he was clinging to the facts 
and not the emotions of the history he had with this boy?

He had done what he could to raise his son right.

And this is where I must cling as well...
With God's help, I am able to say, I too tried to raise my children right. 
Pointing them to the heavenly Father, 
teaching them right from wrong, 
giving them the skills they would need when they were old.

And I too must stand still and watch them walk away...

Could it be that he was assured that he had done all that he could do, 
for now...
knowing in his heart that there would come a time 
when he would see him again?
We do not know how long it was 
from when his son left to when he finally came back home.

The waiting and the not knowing...this is where my faith is tested.

I love the part of this story where it says 
in verse 20, 
"But while he (the son) was still a long way off, 
his father saw him, 
and felt compassion for him, 
and ran 
and embraced him, 
and kissed him."

There is so much here.
What was the father doing and feeling 
between the time of watching his son leave until this moment?
He was waiting and watching, 
for he saw his son coming while he was still a long way off.
He never gave up hope. 
He did not allow his son's leaving to paralyze him either. 
He had an estate to run 
and so in the waiting he continued to do what needed to be done.

I too must follow this model as I let go of my children
I wait
I watch
I work at the thing that God has currently set before me to do
and I do all of this simultaneously. 
I hope
I pray
I wait
I watch
I work...

He actively loved his son even as he was absent, 
as soon as he saw him he felt compassion for him.
He ran to him, 
he did not stand and wait for him to get to where he was. 
As soon as he saw his son coming his way, 
he ran to receive him, 
to embrace him, 
to kiss him.

I too must follow this model...
when my children turn towards me, 
I too should run to meet them, receive them.
I hope that my children always know 
that there is a safe warm place for them in my heart. 
They can always come home, 
no matter how long or far they go.

This parable is about more than a wayward selfish son
it is about a father who never gave up, 
who continued to love, 
who waited 
and watched 
and who somehow had instilled in his wayward son 
that he could always come home.

Lastly, he was patient as he waited for things to work out.

I too must be patient
my favorite verses on the subject is in Romans 5:1-5
I think "The Message" paraphrase sums it up nicely...

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us--
set us right with Him,
make us fit for Him--
we have it all together with God 
because of our Master Jesus.
And that's not all:
We throw open our doors to God and discover
at the same moment that
He has already thrown open His door to us.
We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand--
out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory,
standing tall and shouting our praise.
There is more to come:
We continue to shout our praise
even when we are hemmed in with troubles,
because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us,
and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue,
keeping us alert to whatever God will do next.
In alert expectancy such as this,
we are never left feeling shortchanged.
Quite the contrary--
we can not round up enough containers to hold
everything God generously pours into our lives
through the Holy Spirit!

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