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.
Dear Lover of Prodigals,
I watched the Billy Graham memorial service this morning. All so beautiful—honoring to Billy and glorifying to God.
What I resonated with most, though, was Ruth Graham’s brief recounting of her story. She told of a failed marriage and then turning from God to wild living. She began to see a charming man and, against the advice of her family, married him. That also ended in divorce.
She headed home to see her parents, head down in shame, fearful her dad would send her off for all her sins. But no, Billy was waiting for his daughter when she arrived at the homestead. As she got out of the car, he enveloped her in his arms and a tearful “Welcome home.”
She was overwhelmed by his mercy and grace. It began her journey back to family, God and eventually her own ministry.
Does this story sound familiar? Of course it does.
Those of us who love a prodigal know this story intimately. Let’s read it again:
11 Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them. 13 Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living.
14 “When he had used up his resources, a severe food shortage arose in that country and he began to be in need. 15 He hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from what the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. 21 Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet!23 Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:11-24)
Those of us who love prodigals know intimately that this is really the story of our heavenly Father, who eagerly awaits, even anticipates, the return of your prodigal, my prodigal, even you and me.
Just as Billy Graham eagerly received his daughter back, our Father runs to greet the trudging wanderer, arms spread wide, tears of joy, words of “Welcome home.” A robe, a ring, new sandals and a great celebration.
That’s what awaits our wanderers. That’s what we wait for. That’s what our God is waiting for.
May it be soon!
With love and grace,
What about you? How was your welcome home?
c2018 Judy Douglass
You might want to reread “The Grace-full Father.”
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.