first published at TheMobSociety,
Beloved child, gift of God,
I’m writing this now, for such a time as may come when my thoughts are too distracted to tell you how deeply you are loved and what praise I have offered heaven because of you. I’m writing now, as your Dad and I are watching the world through your 6-year-old eyes, when life’s worst temptation means sneaking an extra cookie after dinner. Now, when there is no millstone of waywardness around our family’s neck. I pray this letter never has a need for sending. But if we should endure a squandered season with one of our children, there are things the others need to know, truths that will likely go unshared in the tumult of the prodigal’s journey.
For me, the good-son of Jesus’ parable has always been the more intriguing character. How long had he been striving to do right in order to balance his brother’s wrongs? How did his relationship with a clearly loving father become so aloof and duty-bound? I think I might know, having been a good-daughter once myself.
I imagine that when the prodigal son disappointed his father, the good-son was anxious to please.
When his father was deceived, the good-son determined to live beyond reproach.
When the family name was sullied, the good-son worked tirelessly to bring it honor.
When the family was sorrowed, the good-son tried to humor, deflect, overcompensate, desperately wishing a return to his childhood days that skipped lightly by.
In the end, I imagine the good-son despaired that no amount of effort could bandage the wound that had been torn open in the family. And his father may never have noticed the collateral damage at his feet, with his eyes turned ever to the horizon.
In those darkest turns of the sun, you too, good-son, may grapple with a rising sense of resentment and jealousy. You’ll pitch from wanting to disown your sibling to a frenzied determination to force his restoration by sheer will. And then you’ll feel shamed to harbor such emotions, as a good-son would never allow a heart so darkened. You’ll commit yourself to deeper prayer, hoping that your zeal will somehow move God’s heart to action. And you’ll silently thirst for quiet times of affection with us, reprieves from the madness when we talk only about you, freely, intentionally and without the nagging sense that there is always another conversation going on inside Mom’s head that has nothing to do with the child before her and
everything to do with the child who has fled.
You see, a prodigal’s wanderlust compels his siblings on a journey, too, against their wishes, without their permission. Ironically, both these journeys end at the throne of grace and the Heavenly Father’s heart of love. The prodigal must come to understand that not even his deepest rebellion can exclude him from the Father’s embrace. And the good-son must come to realize that no height of obedience can earn him a single nod of the Father’s approval. The lesson for both is learning that the Father’s love has nothing to do with being good at all. It has everything to do with the perfect, finished work that has already been done for them by the great-Son who went on a journey of bleeding sacrifice 2,000 years ago.
And so if we should find ourselves in the midst of rebellion, I want you to know that we might forget to tell you that we love you. We’ll probably assume you know that we’re proud of you. We may be too prayer-worn to ask if you have prayer needs of your own. Forgive us, precious one. It will never be our intent, but may often be our flaw. As your earthly parents, we will undoubtedly fall short of our heart’s desire to love you lavishly. But if you can grasp what the good-son of Scripture did not, that the Father’s love can never be merited, only freely received, then you will have grasped the key of grace and the door into the Beloved will be open to you. Seek shelter there during the storm and wait until the bright morning star rises upon our family with healing in His wings.
I love you , I do,