Loving a Prodigal: Never Give Up!
This is the ninth post in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on LOVE, which is the theme of the 2014 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals. This letter goes to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community, but it is true for all of us.
Dear Lover of Prodigals,
When our son came to our family, at almost 10 years old, he had experienced significant rejection and abandonment. He did not trust. He was certain that we would do the same: reject and abandon. And he gave us many reasons to.It took more than 10 years before he truly believed we would not reject him or abandon him.
Why did it take so long? I’m sure there are many reasons, but two come to my mind: Betrayal destroys trust, and trust takes time to heal and rebuild. And I am sure that our efforts to love him well were inadequate to overcome the past.But we did choose to love—as God had loved us. We were guided by these challenging descriptions of real love in 1 Corinthians 13:7-8: Loves always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
These are not wishy-washy descriptions—always—that means always. And never means never.
Love Always Protects
Surely this abandoned boy needed protection. He needed to be protected from:
The past--things taken from him, done to him.
Patterns learned about how to live and love—or not love.Himself—what he believed about himself, the choices he made.
And many other things.We tried to provide that protection.
Love Always Trusts
Well, we wanted to trust him, and assure him that we trusted him. But that was difficult. We sought to help him learn to live in a trustworthy way. But trusting for us really meant trusting that God was always working to redeem and restore this child—that He was trustworthy. And over time our trust in our son would grow.
Love Always Hopes
Sometimes hope was all there was for us. He didn’t have hope that he would make it through school, get back with his mother, know his dad, overcome his life habits, have a future. And sometimes we despaired along with him. But God’s promise of hope for a future kept us steady, hoping and giving hope.
Love Always Perseveres
The results of his birth mother’s choices while carrying him made school difficult for him. We ended up homeschooling through high school. Which he did not appreciate. Each day as I gave him school assignments, his attitude annoyed, even angered me. I would leave his room declaring to God: “I quit. He doesn’t care, why should I? I can’t keep doing this.”
God always had the same response: “So when did I give up on you, Judy.”
And I replied, “I know. Never. But You’re God.”
“Yes, and I love this young man. I have shared that love with you, and you can do this. You can persevere in loving him.”
So I did.
Love Never Fails
Always—and never. God’s love flowing through us always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. And it never fails.
I’m grateful, because I fail. Too often I try to love in my own power. I let the rejection of my love make me want to withdraw. I want to give up.But God’s love never fails. And He promises to love through me so I will never give up.Which brings us back to where we started: We love because God loved us first.
May God’s love overflow your heart and your spirit,
c2014 Judy Douglass
It is just 1 week until our June 2 Worldwide Prodigal Prayer Day. If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation.