Monday, May 17, 2010

The GIft of a Prodigal

By Judy Douglass

Eighteen years ago, God sent us a son. He was 9 years old when he came into our family. His first years had been very difficult and challenging. And he brought many challenges into our home.

We sought to love him, provide for him, accept him, encourage him—and we saw some good things happen in his life. But as he entered his teen years, he increasingly made choices that countered all our efforts and put him at great risk.

The years that followed were difficult and painful. Nothing we did seemed to convince him of our love and acceptance nor help him to make positive choices for his life. We were driven to our knees as the only help for our son.

Over the next years, as we spent many hours and days beseeching the Lord, God slowly brought changes in his life. He finally began to believe that we loved and accepted him. He began to make more responsible choices, to comprehend the serious consequences of the path he was on. He is still paying the price for some of those choices. He is not yet where we would like to see him, but he is moving in a good direction. We are grateful for the better path, though often impatient to see even greater transformation. We are eager to see all that God has in store for him.

But for me, as difficult as it has been, this journey has been an incredible gift. God has used our son to reveal weaknesses I didn’t know I had—and strengths I didn’t realize I possessed.

And God has used our son to show me so much more of Himself. I understand unconditional love at a much deeper level—and that unconditional love doesn’t demand love in return. In urging me many times not to give up on my son, God has reminded me that He has never given up on me. And certainly I have made many stupid and sinful choices that merit grave consequences, but His mercy has prevailed. When my feelings turned to anger, God reminded me that he has redeemed me with tender mercy and wooed me with lovingkindness.

In earlier days, in my thwarted desire for my son to love me and the pain that created, I got a glimpse of the pain I have often caused my Savior. When I have preferred someone or something else, when I have thought something else would satisfy my longings or when I have put another higher in my affections than Jesus, He has felt the rejection. Yet still He lovingly welcomes me back and delights in me.

One more gift: My prayer efforts for our son led to a Worldwide Day of Prayer for him every June 2. After several years of focused prayer from hundreds of friends, we began to see slow but real change. God said I should share the blessing and the Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals was born. Every June 2 thousands come together virtually, or individually, or in small groups to pray for a list of hundreds of those needing a touch from God. We have an active website——that is full of resources and is an amazing prayer community.

Struggle and pain, for sure. But I wouldn’t trade them because of the gifts I have received through this prodigal are of far greater value. I am so grateful to God for him.


  1. thanks Judy! Love the story, gives me such hope for the prodigals in my life and for me the most prodigal of them all---that is loved by my Abba!
    lesa :o)

  2. Thank you for sharing. This could be my currenet story with a prodigal son. We are at the point he now believes we love him, but still making poor choices. God has encouraged us that we trained him up in the ways of the Lord, and so he will come back! I appreciate it and you blessed me!

  3. Judy, Thank you for reminding me that even in the face of love and acceptance we can turn our backs. Your message was well said and inspiring.

  4. thank you Judy for these words. They are just what this weary mom needed to hear. My son is currently eating with the pigs but we in full armor and contending for his life. I am expecting that someday I will be able to see this as a gift.

  5. Thank you for sharing the struggles with your son! I, too, have a prodigal that is now back in my life. But not after many years of not knowing where he was, how he was, and lots and lots of prayers! God did bring him back in my life and we have developed a strong relationship that I am so blessed to have! He still has a road in front of him but I continue to pray and ask God to give me the words to bring him into a relationship with Christ. I know he will. Thank you again! May your prodigal continue on the right path!