If it hasn’t happened to you yet as a believer, I suspect it will – that is, you’ll face a time when you grieve someone’s sin more than he or she does. When you walk in the footsteps of the father of the prodigal son, hang on to these thoughts:
- Keep praying. When you quit praying, your silence is a confession that you’ve given up on somebody—and on God. Prayerlessness leaves prodigals living in sin.
- Keep believing. God knows exactly where your prodigal is. The One who created him (or her) and died for him still loves him; in fact, He loves your prodigal more than you do.
- Keep walking. Stay faithful yourself. Don’t turn in anger from God. You can’t expect Him to answer your prayers for somebody else when you’re not walking with Him yourself.
- Keep standing. Here’s my point (and it’s not an easy one): don’t let your prodigal’s departure lead you to redefine what is right and wrong. Sin remains sin, regardless of how much we love the people living in it.
- Keep grieving. That means your anguish may not go away entirely, but the minute you stop grieving sin is the minute you also start caring less about your prodigal’s choices. Agonizing over sin keeps you on your knees—the right place to be on behalf of a prodigal.
- Keep loving. There’s a legitimate place for church discipline, but many prodigals have walked away from the church first because they assume the church will reject them. Love your prodigal even if others don’t seem to—and even if he or she thinks you’ve lost your love, too.
- Keep listening. Follow the Spirit’s guide to know when and how to speak into the situation, but be willing to listen more than speak if needed. An open ear might take you a long way with your prodigal.
- Keep waiting. Returning to God is seldom easy for a prodigal. It’s sometimes equally hard to return home. Wait patiently (and then be patient when he or she does come home, as change usually takes a while . . . ).
- Keep trusting. To be honest, God might allow your prodigal to suffer the pains of disobedience to turn him back toward Him. You might want to try to fix the situation so that doesn’t happen, but trust God. He knows what’s needed.
- Keep watching. Keep your eyes on the driveway. You never know when you’ll see your prodigal on his way home.
What thoughts would you add?