The Prodigal Son

Last weekend, Chris and I attended a two-day apologetics conference. I went into it with the hope that I would walk away inspired, but even more so, that my son, Christopher, who attended with us, would be inspired.

You see, Christopher is a self-professed atheist. Both Chris and I were encouraged when he showed interest in the conference. I know his motivation was that it would give him the opportunity to debate his point of view, but it didn’t matter to me—I was thrilled he wanted to go at all.

I’ve struggled with regret over the last several years—regret that I didn’t raise my kids as Christians. Instead, I followed in my parents’ footsteps and raised them in the Catholic church. Even so, when Christopher was a boy, he had a heart for Jesus—even preached Him at school on several occasions. I’ve often wondered if things had been different, would my son still walk with Jesus? But then I think about all the families I know that raised their children in the Christian faith, and most of them have the same dilemma as I. And when I take the time to mediate and pray on this issue, I am reminded that everything has a time and purpose, which God orchestrates.

I believe that when scripture or a theme is brought to me through several sources, it’s God tapping me on the shoulder, telling me to pay attention. Recently, the pastor of our church taught on the parables, one of which was the Prodigal Son. Then, I was led back to the passages in Luke and Matthew through my daily devotionals.

Before either of these instances, however, I was reading the January edition of In Touch magazine, and came across an article by Carol Barnier titled, “Until They Come Home.” She is the author of the book Engaging Today’s Prodigal: Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope. If you have a prodigal in your life, I would suggest checking out this book.

In the article, Carol brought up many points that helped me understand my son better and gave me hope in his eventual salvation. I was encouraged that I was already doing some things right (surprise, surprise!) such as focusing on his heart and welcoming his questions. I gave up on the idea of pushing my beliefs on him some time ago (another suggestion Carol makes), and I have to say, it’s tremendously improved our relationship. He knows I love him unconditionally, regardless of whether I agree with his beliefs. This has allowed him to feel comfortable asking questions about my faith and what I believe. He may not agree, but he respects my faith because I don’t hound him with it.

Another suggestion Carol makes is to relate to the whole person. My son is very unique—he doesn’t think like anyone I’ve ever known (and if he didn’t resemble my side of the family, I’d wonder if he was switched at birth.) I can celebrate and encourage the qualities I admire in him without judging those I don’t, such as his cynicism.

I have to put my trust where it belongs—in God. There is nothing too big for Him. And when I worry that Christopher’s heart will forever be hardened to his Creator, I think about the apostle Paul. If an arrogant, Christian-killing man can be redeemed and have such a significant impact on kingdom glory, God can certainly work with my sweet, loving boy.

What are the challenges you face with our prodigal?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *