Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Key Bible Text (published LifeLine Devotionals 6/12/07)

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.’” Isaiah 1:2

God Cares About … Prodigals (Part 2)

Even when you do everything right--things can go wrong.

Personal Story…

Kevin grew up in a Christian home, attended Sunday School, went to Vacation Bible School, participated in his Church’s youth group as a teen and went on summer mission trips. Never a problem in school or at home, Kevin hardly seemed like one who was in danger of becoming a prodigal. In his teens, Kevin began using drugs. While his family began to notice changes, they never could have imagined that their Christian son was on a wayward journey to his ‘pig pen.’ Attentive to his life, they remained interactive while getting on their knees in prayer for Kevin. Still, for Kevin, what began as a curiosity soon became a full blown heroin and cocaine addiction leading to arrests, jail time and two near-death drug overdoses. (For more information about Kevin's testimony go to Story of Deliverance.)

Use God's Word to pray for your prodigal: Praying the Scriptures, J. Cornwell

Be Jesus (with skin on) to your prodigal. Remember, we can hate the sin but we must love the sinner. If you know a prodigal, invite them to your home, to a movie, to dinner; engage them in your life. Be an open invitation from Jesus—relentlessly seek them.

Give: No, surrender your prodigal to the One who understands—He’s had a world full of prodigals!

Challenge: Don't give up! Keep watching and expecting his return. Have the fatted calf in the wings, waiting for the celebration. It's coming. "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14) No! Nothing!


Collateral Damage: Part Two (originally published 11/16/06)

"Isolation, Alienation and Hopelessness"

According to a forensic psychiatrist on Oprah yesterday afternoon, these are the three most dangerous problems of depression. As I sat listening to this Doctor, it ocurred to me that these three feelings haunt the parent or the life of anyone who loves a prodigal. Yes, depression is a natural response to any longterm crisis, but isolation, alienation, and hopelessness are a daily struggle for those who are standing in the gap for their loved ones.

Isolation: "People just won't understand!" "No one else I know has these problems." "There's no where to go for understanding or help." How many times have I felt these thoughts at the core of my aching heart? Days go bye and I never speak out loud about the drama of my prodigals life. Weeks and months pass where extended family and life-long friends are not informed or given the opportunity to pray. As the years go bye, my world becomes smaller and smaller, putting the stress and the pressure of my prodigals life on the very family that is hurting through the process. THIS is isolation.

Alienation: Your prodigal is not invited to the usual school parties or church events, other parents avoid you, your pain is too raw for them; it's a little like death or cancer--to be around it reminds them of it's reality. And of course, there is the self-alienation that occurs--why bother going to that parents meeting, the problems your child faces won't even be addressed.

Hopelessness: As the world just keeps getting darker and darker, the thickness of that darkness snuffs out any light that tries to shine through! With every creative parenting skill, another failure. With every medical intervention, another defeat. Your logic begins to doubt it's ability to gain an understanding of the real facts of your life. When the foundation of your faith begins to crumble.....you are teetering at the gaping hole of hopelessness.

We can not underestimate the toll our prodigals journey takes on our hearts, our minds, and our souls. Living in denial only deepens our sorrow. It is a temporary aide, a short-term solution that only feeds our depression. Conversely, the hardwork of standing in the gap for our prodigals cannot be overestimated. For many, our place in prayer for their souls is their only lifeline.

For those of you who have walked in my shoes, what has worked for you when you were tempted to isolate? How did you avoid the alienation that a long-term struggle presents? What strengthened your hope and nourished your soul as you walked through the "valley" of your struggle?


Dawn said...

The isolation was one of the worst things. My mom said to me once, "I know something is very wrong. If you can't talk to me, you HAVE to talk to someone." I knew it was true. And I was talking to someone - at work, another prodigal's mom, a Christian, but one who didn't "judge" me - as I thought family and church friends would, I guess. I was as guilty as Kev was of thinking they would. When we finally did share, when he went to Teen Challenge, it lifted such a burden. I didn't give anybody enough credit. We suffered in silence for so many years when we could have been prayed for much more than we were. We would request prayer in general terms, and people knew we were in pain. They just had no idea how much or why.

groovyoldlady said...

We felt (and still feel) such shame when folks approach and ask us to mentor them in parenting because we have such awesome kids. Ouch!

Nadine said...

All I can say that finding strength in the Lord, drawing near to him, reaching out to those in our lives we trust even when our first reaction is to run. Those things help when depressed. But what I find works best is those who love you who pray when you have no strength to do so yourself.

C. H. Green said...

I recognized myself in some of these symptoms, even though I do not have a prodigal. I do deal with depression, and the urge to run fast and far from my problems. As always, you are in my prayers, my wonderful friend.

Vicki said...

Hey my friend. I need to get over here more often. It's been so hectic with all the health issues, tests, and open heart surgery. I've missed you and your blog. Such encouragement and wise, wise words. I appreciate your heart as a mother and your trust in the Lord.

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I get sick of hearing friends rattle off about their kids' spiritual activities, relationship with the Lord, etc. I can understand their love and pride. What a blessing to have your children walking with the Lord! But sometimes--not always---it feels like rubbing salt in my wounds. This, I know, is something I need to pray and release to God. It's been my experience that when other parents have children that are doing well, they can't always sense the heartbreak of other parents (if they haven't been through it). And so many, like myself, have suffered silently and unsupported. Last time I shared with a friend my concerns, she flat told me to stop worrying about it. They're grown, she said. Let it go. All I needed was a compassionate ear and someone to pray with me.