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  • Writer's pictureRobert MacMillan

How Long Do I Wait for My Prodigal's Return?

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“How long must I wait for my child to return to me?” This question is an increasingly common refrain of parents in these days of societal collapse. This collapse of the greater culture reproduces the fractal patterns of families in disarray and children in rebellion.

Our culture is in freefall and our children need the direction that society no longer can provide. We who are parents are looking for traces of the old verities our parents relief upon, but they are nowhere to be found, not even in the Church.

Have we come to the apocalyptic hand-wringing concerning the demise of the family? Are we to write off our children as a lost investment? The answer to both of these questions is no!

Yes, we are coming to the end of the age, but God’s promises to parents still trump all of the doomsday scenarios that are in constant circulation. But the

re is no room for hand-wringing, because God is still sovereign. And no to the second question. The second question assumes that God gives gifts to His children that are defective or are prank gifts. God gave us children and they are called gifts from God in the Bible. As long as we are praying and our children are breathing, there is hope, great hope. This hope comes fromGod’s promises and not simply from our wishes.

Let’s assess some of those promises. The first promise is that our children are truly gifts from God. Psalms 127:3-5:

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth.

5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Although teaching a broader lesson, Jesus uses fatherhood as a principle for honest, gracious gifts. In Matthew 7:9-12, Jesus states that if a son asks for something of his father, his father will benevolently give the thing asked. This is especially true of our heavenly Father who gives good gifts to His children.

9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

So, let’s get back to the original two questions. How long do we wait for our children? All of our lives, if necessary. Are we ever to write off our children as a bad investment of our time and energy? Never! God hasn’t completed His work in us to make us fit for our children when He finishes preparing them to return to us. Even if we failed our children, God will always be the Reconcilar, bringing parents and their prodigals back together.

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