A Glimpse into When You Love a Prodigal: A Long Way Off by Dan Wolgemuth

I am so grateful to Dan Wolgemuth, president of Youth for Christ, for writing this beautiful foreword for my book When You Love a Prodigal: 90 Days of Grace for the Wilderness.



And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 ESV)

“… while he was still a long way off

A long way off. A chasm of shame and guilt and regret and anger and bitterness and despair… a chasm that only love and grace can navigate.

Jesus, the teacher of all teachers, teaches us. To love prodigals. To love in a way that crosses the chasm. While the prodigal is still a very, very long way off.

Jesus doesn’t minimize the distance, He resources it. Fuel for the journey, fire for the soul.

Traversing the pain-filled, doubt-littered, fear-exploding route of redemption.

A son… two sons… one consumed with pleasure, the other consumed by the pursuit of power and control. Both prodigals. Both lost and demanding. Both a burden.

Enter the love of a father. The Father.

Yes, God loves first. And His love isn’t restricted to saints… no, it focuses precisely on sinners. With sacrifice, humility and passion. God’s love for sinners is why He loves me. A prodigal. Sure, more politely prodigal than some, but a prodigal nonetheless. The “prodigal journey” is a journey for all of us.

The message of hope and life comes from the love of Jesus. God’s messenger and message to prodigals.

Our reaction to the message: We dismissed and despised Him. We mocked and rejected Him. This is often what happens to those who love a prodigal.

Yet, our pain has a companion in Jesus. We’re never alone in the journey across the chasm. Through the vast and tiring journey. In the middle of hopelessness and pain. Jesus is our guide and our friend. He is our breath and our advocate.

And in the journey, tears water the dust of discouragement. When our resolve is extinguished, and our courage depleted… God, through Jesus, shows us the way. “While he was still a long way off.”

Jesus doesn’t simply join us in the journey… no, this is His journey that He invites us to be a part of. This is His burden to carry, His wound to salve, His tear to wipe. Indeed, He knows the wilderness well.

And that is why Judy Douglass wrote this devotional. As a cup of cold water in the wilderness… from here to there, across the lonely and difficult chasm.

Her story is raw and personal. It’s authentic and tender. Her wilderness journey has a name, a face, an aching heart. And as Judy penned the words that follow, she attacks the lie that those who cross the chasm go alone. No, you are never alone… because Jesus, our King and Redeemer “saw, felt compassion, ran, embraced and kissed a desperately lost son.” Our son. Our daughter. Us.

“When You Love a Prodigal” is a book that Jesus wrote long ago. And I’m so grateful that Judy Douglass has powerfully and compassionately highlighted the immensity and persistence of God’s amazing love and grace.

C2019 Judy Douglass

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Daniel S. Wolgemuth assumed the position of President/CEO of Youth For Christ USA on April 1, 2005. Before YFC Dan spent 28 years in corporate work, including eight years with General Electric. Dan and his wife, Mary, have a long and rich history with the organization.  Dan’s father, Sam, served as President of Youth For Christ from 1965-1973.  Dan has served on the National Board of Trustees from 1995 to present. 

Dan has written extensively.  He currently writes a weekly devotional message called “Friday Fragments” that is widely accepted within and without Youth For Christ.  It is posted on Dan’s blog site www.FridayFragments.com.  Dan has published three books:  The Monday Memo.Com in 2000, Fragments in 2010, and Give Life in 2014. Dan and Mary live in Denver, where they love to bike throughout the mountains. They have three adult children and 11 grandchildren.