April 5, 2023
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It's the mission with the famous birds. During our ministry trip to California, I had a chance to visit one of the most charming of the old Spanish missions, San Juan Capistrano. If you've heard of it, it's because of the birds - the swallows. The swallows like to hang out at that mission until about October 23rd every year. And then like a lot of northerners they fly south for the winter. Oh, but they will return. In fact, lots of local folk and tourists will be at the mission on the day the birds are expected to return. The time might vary a little, but one thing you could be sure of when you see them leave, they'll be back.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hope for the Prodigal."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 7 right out of the life of Jesus. Verse 12: "As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out - the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and He said, 'Don't cry.' Then He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, 'Young man, I say to you, get up!' The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."
Here's a mother who was sure her son was gone until Jesus intervened. Then you have these tender words (I just love this!), "Jesus gave him back to his mother." He's still doing that with sons and daughters who look as if they're spiritually gone. Wandering from the Savior you love, the Savior you so want your child to love.
Maybe you're listening right now with a heart that is literally aching for a son or daughter who is spiritually away. Their spiritual leaving has begun a season of winter in your heart, much like the winter that follows the departure of those San Juan Capistrano swallows. But don't give up on the spring of their return. Maybe it seems hopeless right now, but don't underestimate the power of your Savior to bring stray children home. Believe Jesus for the day when He will in a sense give you back the child you have prayed for so long.
In the meantime, let the father and the prodigal son be your example. You know he didn't chase after that boy nagging him about why he shouldn't go. So many of us as parents make the mistake of expressing our deep concern by nagging and pushing our kids to be right with God, to stop making those unrighteous choices. But when you push on someone, don't they end up farther away from you? They need space to have the dignity to let this be a personal choice not a surrender to your viewpoint. And like the father of the prodigal, always let your son or daughter know you love them unconditionally. And when sin lets them down, and it will, they will return to the place where they know they have been loved through it all.
We accomplish more by talking to God about our kids than talking to our kids about God. Don't give up. Please don't give up. Claim the promise of Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Your prayers focus all the power of Almighty God on that son or that daughter wherever they are no matter how far they are.
And remember, Jesus is a shepherd; he persistently and skillfully goes after lost sheep, including that one you love and who He loves even more. In fact, at this very moment I believe the Good Shepherd is pursuing your wandering loved one. You may not know the way to soften their heart, but Jesus does.
Trust that same God who brings those swallows back faithfully every year to one day bring back the one you love; to bring him or her back to Him, to you. And you know what? It will be spring again.