When we lived in Ohio, we had these bowling partners named Walt and Jeanne. They had a son named Randy who bowled with them. He was probably close to our age, which was thirty-something then. He had been recently married, and he seemed really close to his parents. I commented on that to Jeanne one day.

“It wasn’t always this way,” is what she said.

I waited. Occasionally I can do that.

She continued. “When Randy came home from Vietnam, he was different. And he disappeared for a while.”

“How long?” is what I asked.

“Eight years,” is what Jeanne answered.

I couldn’t for the life of me think of how I would feel if one of my children disappeared for eight years.

“We couldn’t find him at all,” she said. “Everybody kept telling me he was dead.”

Miracle of miracles, I waited again.

Jeanne continued. “I knew he wasn’t dead. I prayed for him every day, and I knew God would tell me if he were dead.”

She went on. “I tried to find him through the Veteran’s Administration, but there was a lot of privacy stuff. I guess they felt sorry for me; they told me he was alive, but I still didn’t know where. They did forward a letter for me, though.”

How would that feel, to have to find out about your own child from a government agency? And to still not know where he was.

“Finally,” she said. “We got a letter. Randy was living in New England. We decided to go up there to camp.”

I waited.

“We told Randy what campground we’d be at, and we were off to New England. Walt kept telling me not to get my hopes up, but I was looking around all the time, waiting to see him again.”

I could hardly stop the tears which had begun to flow down my face.

“Then I saw him, standing at the gate to the campground.”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing,” she replied. “And it was the hardest nothing of my life. Walt said that Randy had to come to us, so I waited. I fixed dinner. And I prayed. He was still standing there. I cleaned up. Still there. Still not moving. I kept praying.”

I needed some tissues, but I wasn’t about to move.

“Finally,” Jeanne said. “Randy came to our campsite. He sat down, and I offered him some leftovers, which he ate.”

“Did you talk?” I asked. “Did you ask him what had happened?”

“No. I was just so thankful that he was sitting there that I never said a word. And he’s been like this ever since. He moved back to Ohio. He calls us almost every day. And every day, I give thanks that he is safe and back with us. Back home.”

I felt like people must have noticed my tears, but nobody was looking our way. Maybe they figured whatever we were talking about was private. Which it was. And that was pretty much the end of the conversation. But it wasn’t the end of my thinking about it. Especially since I had been a prodigal myself.

That’s how I came to Christ. I still remember trying the world’s way. And I remember coming to the end of my rope and figuring that even a tiny piece of God’s way had to be better than what I had.

I remember being broken.

And I remember the relief I felt when I finally came home. I accepted Christ at His word, that He had died for me. No matter how unworthy I was, I knew, I finally believed, that He was there for me. And it was like coming home.

Which is why this video, which I originally found at Chrysalis, moved me to tears. As noted there, the music is by Keith Green.

I hope it speaks to you, too.

“When he [the younger son] came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!

I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’

So he got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

So they began to celebrate.

–Luke 15:17-24


2 Responses to “Prodigals”

  1. 1 e-Mom October 20, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    This is an amazing story… and truly touching. So you were a prodigal too? I guess we all were, in one way or another, before we came to Christ… some of us more deeply into sin than others.

    As I get older I can identify with more characters in the story. I was the oldest daughter, so I had an easy time relating to the one who stayed home. But since then I have migrated far beyond my original hometown, so perhaps to my f-of-o, I am like the wandering son. And of course, now I’m a parent, with wandering children… safe in the Lord, but they’re exploring the world.

    BTW, thanks for the link! Blessings, e-Mom

  2. 2 Becky October 21, 2007 at 6:58 am

    I think you’re right. The older we get, we can see other parts of the story. And…you’re welcome!

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