11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “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. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “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! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to 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. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Because the father didn’t intervene and interfere, but let the son hit rock bottom, he went from rebellion to:
- Regret and re-evaluation.
After the destructive stage of rebellion we come to the second stage, regret and re-evaluation, scripture says in verse 17: “When he came to his senses.” There are many parents that are praying for that sentence to become a reality in lives of their prodigals. Their constant cry is, when is my kid going to wake up, when will they come to their senses? How long before they see that their sin and rebellion is ruining their life? No one can answer the question of how long will it take, even the passage doesn’t give us a timeline of how long it took from rebellion to restoration. The truth is it’s not really about time it’s about trusting, the problem is that our human nature is more comfortable with a timeline than with trusting. But when we focus on a timeline instead of on trusting we end up putting our faith in time instead of in the author of time. Is your faith in the Father or in a timetable? You see sometimes it takes a long time for our kids to recognize that it’s really rebellion that is ruining their lives. Sin can callous and create a stubborn and hard heart. So how do we hang in there, by hanging on to hope, our faith isn’t in timelines it’s in the truth. Now while we don’t know how long it will take for our kids to move from rebellion to re-evaluation, what we do know is that if we don’t let them hit bottom and we keep bailing them out then instead of true repentance they will eventually just return to rebellion. There are many parents today who instead of praying for prodigals are propping them up in the pig pen. The real reason that they never come to their senses is that they don’t have to because by constantly bailing them out we have created a false reality, a fairytale where there are no consequences for their choices. As parents we have to trust in the trying times because if we don’t we will be tempted to try and alter the timeline. When the son “came to his senses he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare and here I am starving to death? I will set out and go back to my father and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. And I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired men.” Notice that his change in attitude results in a change of action. He doesn’t just recognize his ruin he chooses to run from it by returning to his father. It’s not enough just to recognize rebellion we need to run from it and the best way to run from rebellion is to return to the Father. There are many today who re-evaluate they just don’t respond. The son goes from rebellion to regret to re-evaluation to repentance. He doesn’t just wise up he walks away from his failure and toward the father. “He came to himself” He faces the facts and admits that his forma life is foolish. Until prodigals are willing to question the reality of their lifestyle there will be no return. As the son evaluates the results of his current lifestyle he realizes the insanity of his choices. The fact is, we never change until we get desperate. Sometimes God has to get our attention. The problem is that as parents sometimes we get in Gods way and short circuit the process because we keep prop them up in the pig pen. As a result they never get homesick for God. They never come to their senses and say this place stinks and I’m sick of living like a pig. They never truly give up their sin and leave the pig pen to seek the Savior. True heart change always results in a change of heading. Notice the difference from verse 12 where the son responds in rebellion and says, “Father, give me…” and verse 19 when the son returns home and says, “Father, make me…” He is broken and desires a change, he recognizes that he has made a mess of his life, and is so sick of sin that he is willing to become a hired servant. So what do parents do during this stage, while they are waiting for their prodigal to come to their senses? I see at least three things we can be engaged in as we wait for God to do a work:
Pray and pray and never stop praying. Our kids are targets of the enemy, from the moment they take their first breath, Satan is trying to break and ruin their lives. One of the chief responsibilities we have as parents is to pray for our kids. Don’t wait for problems before you pray, be proactive in your prayer life, because prevention is better than cure. Remember that prayer is a privilege and that the point of prayer is not petitioning God with your wants but positioning your heart to hear His Will. When it comes to our children prayer is one of the most practical and powerful things we can engage in as parents. The war is won not with our wise words but with a willingness to get on our knees before the father and admit that we need Him. Prayer isn’t about fixing the problem it’s about connecting and communing with our creator because as we do we start to recognize the richness of His resources and the limits of ours. Does prayer work; well all I can say is that I am the product of prayer. I am the prodigal who became a pastor because I had parents who refused to give up and persisted in pray. Persist in prayer and second:
- Commit them to Christ
Commit your kids to Christ. The things that are out of our control are not out of Christ’s control. We can’t change the situation but Christ can. Recognize that first and foremost your kids belong to God. That their sin doesn’t just break your heart it breaks His and that He loves them even more than you do. Lastly be willing to:
Waiting isn’t worthless it produces patience which is a virtue every parent desperately needs. My encouragement is that while you wait worship don’t whine, don’t focus on the problems focus on the praise. Just because your kids are living in rebellion doesn’t change who God is, so focus on His character instead of the circumstances. The father in the story of the prodigal son was willing to wait are you?