Loving a Prodigal: Who Is the Strong-Willed and Stubborn One?

Once a month I write a letter to the wonderful Prayer for Prodigals community I am part of.  Often those letters, though specific to those who love a prodigal, apply to any or all of us in the challenging circumstances of life.  This post considers my own stubbornness.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

I’m a strong-willed, stubborn person. From the beginning. Just ask my family.

When I came to Christ at age 15, I made a purposeful exchange: “God, I choose your way, not mine.”

I thought it was settled. But by the next day I discovered that I would be making the choice—my way or God’s way?—every day, sometimes many times a day.

Deeply stubborn

And so it has been. Apparently my stubborn self-will is deeply ingrained. Many times God has waited patiently for me to open my hands to let go of my way. Sometimes he applied a small crowbar to my clenched fists to precipitate surrender.

Loving a prodigal revealed the depth of my desire to have my own way. My appeals to God often demanded or cajoled or bartered. Surely He would intervene and rescue our son—and us—from this agonizing journey.

God listened and received my prayers with love and grace. Then He reminded me that He had a better way.

The children of Israel had a similar problem. They were stubborn and self-willed. In Isaiah 30 the Lord Himself lays out a litany of their refusal to choose His way, of their ongoing rebellion, of their rejection of His plans.

Am I willing?

Then He says these amazing words:

“In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength. But you were not willing…. “(Isaiah 30:15).

Not willing.

Yes, that applies to my rebellious loved one. But I believe in this case God is speaking to me. Even yet I think I know what is best. Still I want God to do it my way. I don’t want to live with this pain. I don’t want to lose my child. I want to be free from fear and anxiety and hopelessness.

My Father offers rest and repentance, quietness and strength, what I need for this journey to surrender.

But too often, I am not willing. I want it my way. The less painful way. The easier way. My fingers are tightly clasped. Surrender seems unacceptable.

Slowly I learn: God’s way really is better than my way. He is patient but determined. He wants me to become the person He designed me to be. He wants me to be ready to do the good works He has prepared for me.

And just perhaps, this loved prodigal who has taken me where I did not want to go, who has revealed my own stubbornness, is the means by which God will accomplish His good purposes in me.

Am I willing?

Desiring a surrendered heart,


What about you? Are you as stubborn as I am?

c2017 Judy Douglass

If you would be interested in requesting prayer for a prodigal loved one, or being a part of our wonderful praying community, respond in comments or write to me at PrayerforProdigals at gmaildotcom.