Today I heard James McDonald talking about families…specifically he was referencing Hannah, a grieving barren woman and how she took her pain and pleading to where it belonged….. to God….not to her husband. In talking about the issue of where we take our family problems, including rebellious or unsaved children, he said that without a doubt he believes that God’s will is for ALL children to be in heaven with their parents. He referenced several scriptures that assure… us that God desires salvation for ALL people. He said he could find no scripture pattern or principle that suggested entire families, entire households, were not to be protected and provided for by God. As I was listening to him talk about parents’ anxiety for their children, it occurred to me that in many cases parents, no matter how well intended, are the obstacle to their children coming to salvation. Parents who provide everything a child needs, protecting and enabling their children (even in the child’s rebellion or addiction), leave no room for the child to even have a reason to seek and trust God.
I have dealt with many women whose lives came apart completely when a parent died. They had no foundation except their parent(s). The parent had inadvertently created a dependency on themselves that prohibited the child from coming to God. Sometimes, it seems, when parents will not turn loose of their children, entrusting them entirely to God, God cannot reach them until the parent(s) are deceased. Alternately, it is possible that when parents will not surrender their children to God’s care, believing that they alone can do it, God may take the child home first in order to liberate him from the clutching fists of untrusting parents and in doing so, create a scenario in which the parents have no choice but to trust God’s will for their child. Just thinking…….
Interestingly, this message related to a conversation I had with my daughter-in-law Saturday…..She was talking about some lessor known lessons in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) that she uses in counseling. She pointed out something I had not noticed before…..in a pivotal hinge verse, 15:16 we read this: “He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, BUT NO ONE GAVE HIM ANYTHING.” It is generally the case that one is only willing to accept responsibility, repent, accept that she must formulate her own solutions to her problems, humbly seek forgiveness, be obedient, and reconcile in relationships when she has depleted all of her resources, has wound up in difficult and intolerable circumstances, and NO ONE GIVES HER ANYTHING.
Another small, but astute lesson that Joni observed was that when the Prodigal Son left, the Father could have sent a slave to accompany him. He could have sent someone to follow and report on the him, but he didn’t. He also could have told the son that, if it didn’t work out to come on back. He could have paced and wrung his hands in anxiety, awaiting news of the son. Instead he simply waited and watched. Perhaps he trusted the training he had given his sons, knowing the Prodigal would either return prosperous or humbled. Perhaps he trusted God, knowing that however his son’s life turned out, God is sovereign and good. His patience and restraint were rewarded with a humbled, repentant, and restored son who made a cautious and well reasoned decision to come home. (And who found the Father ready to do even more than he could have expected, joyfully but with the truth that what was spent was spent and all that remained belonged to the older brother.)