The Father of the Prodigal Son


My daughter was telling me what I never wanted to hear, and if the news wasn’t difficult enough, she had chosen to tell me over the phone when I was 200 miles away!

The “mother-bear” in me fiercely rose to the surface. I’d do what I had to, to protect my little girl. She may have been an adult but she would always be my little girl. I’d snatch her away from the situation; I’d risk all to rescue her; I’d gladly face any giant — this was MY daughter!

But on the three hour drive home, terribly burdened and trying to gain control of my emotions, I committed her back into God’s hands. Either He was big enough to handle the situation or He wasn’t. Which was it? After a struggle I relented: He was big enough …. I just didn’t like what had happened. So now the question was this, how would I handle it?

I could rant and rave and give her piece of my mind, or I could …. “Or I could what, Lord? What else could be my response?” As her mother, I had dreamed a thousand dreams for her but this was certainly not among them … and yet, here we were. So I asked the Lord again what my response should be.

In God’s kindness, He tenderly said He wanted me to take the position of the father of the prodigal son. The father? My focus in that story had always been on the son; I had to think twice about the position and attitude the dad had taken.

After some prayer my understanding fell into place. The dad knew what was in the world when his son asked for his inheritance. He knew there were things his son might waste his money on. But we have no record he tried to talk him out of leaving, or that he chased him down the road pleading he not make unwise choices.

We have no record the dad went from town to town looking for his son trying to rescue him from the ilk of this world. Instead, I believe the dad prayed. I believe he wore out his knees and a spot on the rug praying. He waited, and I think he grieved and hoped and looked for his son every day. But he was wise and understood his son would have to come to the end of his rope before he’d come home; he had to hit bottom. And that’s what we read: when the son “came to his senses,” everything changed.

The Lord was asking me to take the same stance. Pray. Don’t rescue her or steal her away from the circumstances. Pray. And wait. And pray and wait some more. Wear out the carpet in relentless prayer, hope earnestly for her return, but wait until she comes back on her own accord.

The difficult ordeal made me need to choose each day which stance I would assume: was my God big enough or not? Did I know better than He — did I really think I was smarter than God and could handle it better my way? And how many times had that worked before?

Had God not spoken so clearly about assuming the same position as the dad in that story, I would not have been able to sit by while everything took place. But He had spoken, so I often needed to surrender to Him again and again rather than allowing the mother-bear to take over. And under other circumstances the Lord may have had me respond differently, but under these circumstances I was not to send out the “rescue squad.”

Further, the Lord emphasized that in the story when the son returned the dad rejoiced over him. There was no brow-beating or condemnation. He received his son with open arms and I was to do the same. There was to be complete acceptance and nothing less. Nothing! And that took swallowing my pride, and since my pride was huge, swallowing it was difficult, but I did it anyway.

The entire exercise exampled what it’s like for God to take what the enemy wants to use to harm us, and yet God turns it around for good. Frankly, I had needed to decide to follow God more completely, to trust Him more thoroughly, and follow Him even when it hurt. Was God the Lord of my life or not?

After some time and it took a few months to get there, I gulped down my pride, lay down “my” dreams for my daughter and picked up the reality of where we all found ourselves to be. And by the grace of God, and I mean those words, only by His grace, I was able to receive her with open arms and an open heart. I had finally realized she would always be my daughter no matter what, and I loved her with every breath and beat of my heart. How could I do anything less than receive her gladly? She was my flesh and bone, and God had put her together in MY tummy! What a privilege to be her mother!

In the telling of this story, I’ve intentionally been vague about our circumstances because what is of note is what the Lord did. He showed Himself to be unconditionally faithful; and if He would do that for us, He’ll do it for anyone anywhere under any circumstances.

And for His faithfulness I will always be grateful. If He would take the time to teach me what the father of the prodigal son may have experienced, it is only a reflection of God’s position when He looks at me. I’ve run off doing my own thing, waving goodbye and never looking back, playing the prodigal son — until I came to my senses. And just like the son did, I ran back with a bargaining chip in hand and before I could get the proposal out of my mouth God had received me with open arms and was celebrating my return.

I am His daughter, and if I could love my daughter so deeply and care so much, how much more would He love perfectly? Never do I cease thinking about my girl; she is always on my heart and in my soul. And if I can love that much, God’s love is far superior!

When my daughter came home I stood over her bed the way I had a hundred times before to watch her sleep. Everything about her was beautiful!

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And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. Luke 15:20b NLT

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 NASB

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! Psalm 139:17-18a NLT

The Father of the Prodigal Son – Prayer