To the parents of “prodigal” children (and today, especially their mothers):
When reading that Luke 15 parable, how often have we focused on the son who wasted his inheritance?
Yes, we identify with the pain of all that transpired while he was away from home, and our hearts are encouraged by his eventual return.
Surely, we long for our own grown babies to find their way back to the fold of the family, even if we are angry or frustrated with their choices.
In some ways though, we romanticize this story, desiring the same happy ending and joyous reunion to occur.
But what if that day never comes? Or what if it takes your lifetime for them to return?
The meatier question is: What are we doing in the meantime?
While discussing this parable in Sunday school last week, we turned our thoughts to his parents (the father).
In doing so, I paid attention to clues about the father’s character. I thought about the kind of strength it takes for a parent to readily receive a rebellious son.
It not only took patience and gratitude, but faith-filled anticipation unto preparation.
It makes sense to me that for at least a good part of that waiting period, that father prepared himself so that there was no guile or even passive aggression in him upon his son’s return.
It dawned on me that this parable’s patriarch probably spent less time and energy focused on worry and/or anger.
He prepared his mind so that he knew just what to do the moment his son’s head bobbed into view from “a great way off” as the boy made his walk of shame all the way home.
Pops had his boy’s robe and shoes placed where they could easily be found and quickly retrieved.
He was ready to have his dinner plans rearranged.
I imagine that for a good part of the father’s waiting he also worked on creating a mindset that would compassionately receive a son who betrayed him and embarrassed the family name.
Maybe it was the famine in the land that helped humble him. Maybe it was his wife’s wisdom.
Whatever it was, instead of wallowing in the natural man’s flesh-driven emotions, he became proactive (however long that took).
He was so prepared that he even knew how to respond to a jealous sibling with a comparable measure of compassion. Perhaps even so disciplined in love and patience as to be without anger.
Then I thought about myself and all of my friends who are parents of children who have strayed in varying degrees of waywardness—
So many heartbroken mothers today…
What if we shifted our thoughts to focus on preparing ourselves for our children’s return, even if they never come back or we don’t live to see it happen?
Imagine what God could do to our hearts and minds.
Would it not improve our quality of life? Would we not experience a deeper sense of grace?
To the mothers of lost children on this Mother’s Day, there is hope for joy right now.
(Or tomorrow. You know, whenever you’re ready to receive it.)