Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"He restores my soul"
It's time to CELEBRATE!

Why, if I have been praying for this moment for more than ten years, am I questioning the reality and certainty that God has begun a good work in my son...that He is faithful to see it to completion? Disbelief, fear and anxiety remain ever present, in spite of the tremendous blessings we have experienced.

This is my prodigal's name tag. After spending two days at Disney University, this name tag brings joy to his face. When asked how his first day on the new job went, his enthusiasm was contagious. He propped his name tag up against a photo of his sister and him and proudly announced, "Mom, after so many years of visiting Disney World as a little boy, I remember seeing so many people with a Disney name tag on. Now, I have one! My name is on it!"

He has always wanted to belong. Perhaps this is why so many teenagers become lost; no where to fit in, no one to accept them with all of their quirks and growing pains. If your child is an athlete, they belong to a team. If your child is academic, they are part of a prestigious group. If your child is an artist or musician, they belong to a cluster of creative souls. If your child lacks these skill-sets, they become part of a culture of loners. Perhaps this is why gangs are on the increase, why drug usage is so prevalent; when a soul becomes lonely, it settles where it is least judged.

After years of searching, my son has now joined all-things Disney! He is part of the Disney Team; there are Disney standards, there is Disney talk. There is a Disney attitude and Disney traditions. Curt is thrilled that he was hand picked to be part of this team. And is his self-esteem soaring! From the depths of his journey he has risen to a permanent state of charmed living! His Disney ID gets him into any of the Disney secured boundaries. Strangers that he meets in the marketplace, upon seeing his Disney ID card, congratulate him for working with such an outstanding team. He belongs to something that others respect. This is new for my prodigal.

My prodigal...why am I having such trouble believing my lost son is returning home? I can feel the anxiety rising--everything is going so well NOW (thank you God)--but what if he stumbles? How does a stumble define his journey? Following years of crisis after crisis, what am I to think of this calm? Is this the calm before yet another storm? Why am I so reluctant just to rest in God's promise of restoration? After all, isn't Dr. Phil known to say, "the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior?"

I feel tremendous guilt as I ponder these fears. I believe God has begun a good work in my son, I believe that God is answering our prayers, I believe, I believe, I believe! Or do I? My mind struggled with this guilt, with my fears and the escalating anxiety as I flew home from Orlando last night. While looking out of the window into the late evening sky; stars overhead, rolling thunderclouds billowing below, I began to meditate on a passage I had memorized so long ago: Psalm 23 quieted my spirit and I immediately began to feel at rest as I prayed this Psalm of David:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not [question!!!]

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides [my son] in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though [we] walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow [Curt] all the days of [his] life and [he] will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

It was as if the Spirit had directed the rephrasing of these words: God was speaking once again. He is my Shepherd, I must follow His lead. He is with me, He is with my son. I will believe, furthermore, I will trust! Like the father in the parable of the lost son--I will continue to look (to expect!) as my once lost son returns home! I will not doubt, I will not question, I will continue to plan the banquet of celebration worthy of his return. There is no room in my heart for doubt, it is filled with compassion for my son's homecoming and to God for His faithfulness. Luke 15: 20 will be my example: "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." This account does not say the father doubted his son's return, feared further problems or questioned the permanence of this homecoming. No--the father planned a party! "'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate." (vv. 22-24).

Thank you for joining in on the feast of this long-overdue celebration! Please hold me accountable should I need some redirecting! Are there areas of your life that we can celebrate together? Remember the words of the father, "but we had to celebrate and be glad, because what was dead is alive again; what was lost is now found" (paraphrase verse 32).

Let's use blog-land to celebrate all that God promises to restore; He has prepared the table for us, we are anointed, and our cups overflow. The feast of goodness and love is prepared, let's dwell in it! Let's celebrate!


Juliabohemian said...

Disney is like being in the Marines except it's "happy"

It's a good, controlled kind of lifestyle for a sheep returning to the flock.

Juliabohemian said...

I live in Anaheim, CA so you can imagine I see PLENTY of Disney!

Jane said...

So happy to hear about your son. How fun for him to be living his dream at Disney.

Kristen said...

That is great! I am so happy for him. It seems like he feels very proud of it, which I am sure will help to keep him on the straight and narrow.

I agree with you regarding teenagers who don't "fit in" anywhere. That is how my brother was, too.

I wouldn't feel bad about being scared about the future. I think anytime someone goes through a hard time and then has "returned", there's always that fear that they will eventually go back to the bad habits. That's just where we have to trust the Lord and our prayers and the person themselves.

Good for your son!!

Kate said...

Wow, so much wisdom in your post. I am sorry to hear you've had to deal with crisis after crisis. I am new to your blog but it sounds like things are getting better. It's easy for us to stumble in our faith and that is the devil wanting to take us back down that dark road of doubt. I look forward to reading more of your blog. You were very encouraging. :)

Elizabeth said...

Wow...what excellent words you have shared here!! I think those of us with prodigals are always kind of on the edge of worry. But I do know God CAN bring them home...and HE does hear our prayers...HE is just not bound by time...our time anyway...and we simply have to wait and hope and believe.

My prodigal has a fiance now...they came for 5 days in March. This young man has given us more hope for our daughter and their coming to the Messiah than we have had in the last 10 years anyway, if not 15! It has been a long journey! But we can now see some parts of it for us even. And we are SO grateful for the apparent "GOD hunger" we see in her soon to be husband! And that she has great respect for him as well as love...this all gives us HOPE!! We have to hang on to what we can find of it, don't we?

You really spoke so well as to WHY these kids go out into the world and away from us and God...they need to be accepted someplace. A lot of churches and Believers are going to stand accountable one day for the way they rejected those who were so needy...imho anyway. Not that I am perfect either...we all need to reach out to anyone who needs us...for sure!! Thanks again for sharing so tranparently with us here! So encouraging and I REJOICE with you!!

kpjara said...

I'm so excited for your son! Having lived the "prodigal life" myself, I know that every prayer matters (even the ones I didn't ask for or even want at that time). God's woo-ing and love and forgiveness and mercy and grace still hunt me down everytime I start to drift away! He is my ultimate protection.

The growth came during the mountaintop experiences, so I could deal with it all in the valley and sometimes, in the lowest valley I could feel Jesus carrying me!

I'm so happy your son is on a mountaintop!

Jan said...

Dear Heart, enjoy the calm, celebrate the homecoming, and trust that if another storm blows up He will still shelter you under His wing.
Rejoicing with you!

Praying for your Prodigal said...

I just love getting goose-bumps when I check the comments! Thank you all--for your encouragement; it means so much to me. I am actually strengthened by your support, blessed by your personal stories.....and grateful for the time you take to post.

I'm also adding Elizabeth's prodigal to the feast list! Sounds like we'll be celebrating with Elizabeth and family soon! God is so-o-o-o good!


Shalee said...

What a glorious testement to God that you make your faith real with your children! Isn't it fantastic to see the fruition of so many offered prayers finally come to light?

I know your prayers aren't over by a long shot, but you can use these answers to edify other and yourself in the coming days.

And those questions you have aren't really doubting God. They are growing pains for your faith and complete security in the Father. You will be standing taller when you are through it.

Praises to Him (and a few to you for being such a vocal spokeswoman for the Lord.)

jessica said...

Speaking as a former prodical... sometimes all you need is a place to belong in order to bring you back. It was never enough to come from a huge family that loved me... I need affirmation from an outside group. In high school I found that affirmation with the kids that drank in the back of the parking lot...which tells you a lot about my high school career. After much time away from the church and my family I discovered God's love again and we are now active members in our church. I still struggle with those feelings but I know where to look when I am down.

Free In Christ said...

Your posts are always so encouraging to me. My children are too young yet to have had the "crisis" you speak of. However, I have a sister that has been a prodigal for me. She is on the mend, and quit wonderfully at that. Yes, it is time to celebrate, every little step they take. PARTY TIME!! Again, your are such an encouragement to me.

sunshine scribe said...

Thank you for that beautiful post and for introducing me to your beautiful blog. Congratuations and hooray for Disney.

Your words about lost teenagers are so wise and your son finding a place to belong is enormous. And even if there is another storm he sounds like his self confidence is soaring and his mother is right by his side.

curious servant said...

That is sweet.

I understand the anxiety of being the parent. (I suppose it may be an echo of how our Lord feels for all the prodigals).

If his life is anything liek the lives of myself, and my friends, he probably WILL stumble. But I believe that once saved is always saved.

But stumbling, tripping, sitting down to rest, even wandering off, is often a part of any journey.

He sounds great. And his mom sounds great too.

curious servant said...

Oh yes... thank you for your kind comments on my blog.

Lisa said...

Congrats to you and your son... He sounds happy and excited about what lies ahead of him. And what mom can't be thrilled about that?

Morning Glory said...

I'm so, so happy for the good news we keep hearing from you about your son. And I understand your fears and working so hard at releasing the anxious thoughts. It's difficult to have to redefine "normal" in your life after going through these things. My peace of mind and heart came gradually, a cautious peace. But I knew God was still there for us and our child. I didn't doubt God, and I suspect you aren't either. But when our sense of normal is taken from us, it takes time to figure it out again.

You're still in my prayers.

shannon from rocks in my dryer said...

Your willingness to be so transparent is a huge breath of fresh air to me, every time I come to your blog. Bless you, Diane!

Perri said...

Could be you are going to have lots of happy things to blog about from now on.

Way to go Curt.

Peach said...

Great to read about Curt. We'll look him up when we go to Disney!

Your story touched my heart and I weep with joy alongside of you for the returning of a prodigal to the narrow path. May God continue to direct him and keep him safe.

I will pray for you as you watch and wait expectantly for God's hand to move.

Rebecca said...

When I was praying every day and night for my husband to come back to God, I kept coming across that verse in Isaiah 65--
"I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a people who did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'" Our God is so faithful to deliver what we can't even ask or hope for. I love reading how He's at work in your son and yourself. That's amazing!

Elizabeth said...

Oh thank you for adding my daughter too...her name is Amy if that helps. I feel God was even in our naming of her, as of our 3, her names are the only ones that have meanings that flow together. Her 2 names mean: "Beloved of God"! You can imagine how much comfort that brings to me now in this situation!! I do not think we even knew the meanings of the names when we chose them...isn't God so amazing? How can anyone not believe in HIM!!??

Diane said...

I am overjoyed to see the change in your tone in your posts since I first started visiting your blog. God is so Good!!
My daughter is dabbling in some things we both know are not Christ-like, and she has been raised in church and a Christian home since she was born. She is 18 and going to college in Aug. and I worry so much about the ways she can allow Satan to lead her astray. All I can do is pray, and try to influence by modeling Christ before her. I can't spank her or make her do the right things any longer. Now she's in God's hands alone, and I have to trust that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day.
I rejoice with you that your prodigal has returned to the fold, and it gives me hope that mine won't go too far astray before she comes back to God.
God Bless you, Curt and all your family. :-)

Bill said...

Now I know how my friends and family felt when I came home. Thanks for this post and thanks for your visit to my site.