I know firsthand the abject difficulty for parents to find peace when agonizing over a child who is hiding and rebelling against those who love him. Indeed, I have spent countless nights tossing, turning, worrying and praying for my reckless and wayward child. Parents naturally experience distress when they do not know where their prodigal child is or what that child might be doing. It is instinctive for a parent to be concerned about the welfare of their children, even those that are not in rebellion.
Yet, God does not want those who follow Him and carry His word within them to live in a disempowering spirit of fear or anxiety. Living tentatively and apprehensively is not His good and perfect will for our lives! The Bible frequently reminds us to “fear not” (Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 43:1, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 118:6, Joshua 1:9, and Psalm 56, etc.) 2 Timothy 1:7 instructs us that God has endowed us with a “…spirit of love, of power and self-discipline.” So, it is never God’s will that we live in anxiety and constant trepidation!
The dictionary defines ‘prodigal’ as one who “…wastes resources freely, recklessly and extravagantly.” Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 portrays a son who destroys and ravages not only his inheritance through wasteful recklessness, but also his relationship with his parent, his beloved father.
How extremely heartbreaking it is for parents to witness a child indulge in wasteful, self-destructive behaviors with potential lifelong, devastating ramifications. When a child walks away from his family, makes repetitive poor choices, flouts responsibility and loses integrity, those who most love the child are so very grieved, shattered and dispirited. And what happens when a child’s poor choices advance into compulsive behaviors, like drug and alcohol abuse — and if continued repetitively, alcoholism, drug addiction and the like?
Yet, as heartbreaking and far-reaching as the situation may be, we absolutely CANNOT allow the enemy’s ploys of fear, anxiety or even panic to overwhelm Abba Father’s TRUTH, wisdom and perfect plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). We must absolutely remain focused on Him, not on the present dismal situation. We must know and trust that He alone is the remedy, the advocate, the comforter and the hope — and that He holds the reins!
Yet, such mental acuity is difficult for parents whose children are in the midst of their rebellion. With that in mind, here are some tips that I have found very helpful when I need to stay focused on “standing in the gap”:
- Diligently act in FAITH, trusting God and His Word. Many of you are familiar with the adage, “Let go and then… Let GOD.” God promises He will lead us away from our fear in Isaiah 41:13: “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
- Rid your thoughts of uncertainty, disbelief and fear, all malicious tools of the enemy. The Bible instructs us that there is “no fear in love” in 1 John 4:18 and that “…perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” and “the one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Take out your spiritual garbage regularly, ridding yourself of the malevolent ‘rats’ who seek to rob your peace and wreak havoc in your life.
- Harbor diligently in God’s Words and daily seek His wisdom and grace. Remember that God is more than “able” to protect all who stand on His Word. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us, “…cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). So, while family counseling, self-help books and other resources are useful and beneficial, never forget that the only truly safe and reliable place is within God’s shelter and fortification. Study your Bible and hide His Words in the center of your heart.
- Diligently pray for your child’s deliverance through the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. Ask that God’s good and perfect will be done. I like to pray Psalm 34 and Psalm 91 over my children. There is also Ephesians 6 and Isaiah 61 among numerous others.
Finally, always remember the beautiful, celebratory conclusion of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son and the truths revealed within:
- God patiently waits with kisses and an open embrace for his children to return to the fold.
- God welcomes His formerly rebellious children back into His embracing arms with a celebratory feast
Our Father wants nothing more than to restore His children to a relationship with Him and His kingdom so that what was dead can come alive and what was lost can be found and made whole —— in His perfect love! Can you agree with me and find hope and clarity in God’s truth and promises?