Feature photo by Katherine Dalton
I feel like the story of the Prodigal Son has been a key story in my life this year, not necessarily because I’ve had some uniquely wayward experience- I do so greatly need grace each and every day. But, the Lord has continued to bring this story back to the surface for me.
I’ve been struggling recently with the question What do I do when I am watching a friend walk into a situation I know is not good for them?
We all have been there and I know that friends have been in the very same situation for me. So what do we do? How do we respond?
I was talking to a friend recently who is battling a season of watching her sister make choices that she knows will cause her pain down the road. She loves her so much that it hurts to know she’ll soon be hurting. But, we all have been given advice at times we didn’t want it and know exactly how we received it.
My small group girls have been walking through the book Popular by Tindell Baldwin, in which Tindell shares her testimony, many choices she wishes she didn’t make and scars she wishes were never created. She shared that amidst this she felt so alone and so broken, but the one thing that kept her going was that amidst it all, her parents loved her.
She had cheated on her boyfriend when she was drunk so he broke up with her and though she was in a sea of consequences for choices she should have never made, her parents bought her a bouquet of a dozen red roses and put them on her night stand and told her they were sorry her heart was broken.
And what I realized recently about the Prodigal Son is that for the Father to have seen the Son coming from a long way off, it means that He hadn’t taken His eyes off the road.
The Father had never lost all hope for His child, never decided to just go on with life and believe His son would always be broken and wayward. He kept His eyes on the road in eager anticipation of His son’s return and when He laid His loving and gracious eyes on Him from a long way off, He ran to him.
And I think this is how we’re called to love the people in our lives that we see in seasons of brokenness. If it’s our place to speak boldly and directly about the choices they’re making then may we ever so abidingly do so (disclaimer- if anyone in your life is in danger to themselves or anyone around them, it is not only your place but your obligation to say something and report the situation). But for situations that are not life threatening, situations that maybe kind of aren’t your business or aren’t your place to speak up, though you are painfully watching them unfold, I think we follow the Father’s model.
Keep your eyes on the road.
Don’t you dare give up hoping that was is lost will be found, broken will be redeemed, empty will be filled, damaged will be restored.
But the Father doesn’t just run to Him, He welcomes him back into His house as a son.
And this is so important.
Often when we are in seasons of wandering, seasons of brokenness, we forget who we are. And the people who make the biggest difference are not the ones who tell us we shouldn’t and are so eager to say “I told you so.” Instead, the people who make the greatest difference are the ones who look at us in the midst of our broken, lost, and weary souls, and tell us who we are- redeemed, whole, holy, loved, and accepted in Christ.
“When you see me filled with doubt or self hatred, when you observe me during my worst seasons of discouragement and failure, I want you to both weep with me ad I weep and be filled with hope, not the empty hope that says trite things like “It’ll all work out” [..] but a hope that exists because it sees something in me that is absolutely terrific. Believe that there is life in me. I want to catch the gleam in your eye that tells me you know there is more to me than my problems and you are confidently hopeful that good will emerge. I want you to ache when you see the good buried beneath so much bad, but I want you to be passionately convinced that by the grace of God the good is there, waiting to be revealed.” – CONNECTING, Larry Crabb
So may we keep our eyes fixed on the road, knowing that there is no brokenness, no sin, too far gone that the grace of our Father cannot restore and the creativity of our Author cannot redeem. And may we remind the broken that in them is wholeness.
What do you think?
How have you been affectively loved and cared for in seasons of making poor choices?