my daughter has inherited many things from me. good things. bad things. things that can go either way... like my love of travel. my wanderlust. she has a serious case of that. except she is a GREAT minimalist packer. that she got from her dad. she is leaving for 10 days in europe and her suitcase only weighs 20 pounds. she travels light. that is a gift that i don’t seem to have...
today she leaves for that european trip over spring break (and a few days after the break. she is excited about that.) she will see london, paris, florence & rome. i may never get her back home again. well, i may have her body here... but her soul may always stay somewhere wandering far away. those are the risks you take as a parent. those are the risks that keep you up at night. those are the risks called living life as a human...
life is risky. God made it that way. i plan to take that up with Him someday. of course, by the time i would take that up with Him, i will see Him face to face. and i will understand things that i don’t understand now and i don’t think i will have many questions. just plenty of answers.
my friend (meaning that i think we would be friends if we actually knew each other) ann voskamp, just sent her son out into the world. in true ann voskamp fashion, he went on a mission trip. and in true marshall fashion, millie isn’t going on a mission trip... but “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”. do we ever go anywhere where God isn’t?
ann writes about being a prodigal parent. yep, that is me sometimes... all the time. but then she uses it as the meaning that tim keller defines in his great book, prodigal God. i taught this book to the youth last year while God taught this book to me last year. sometimes God likes a two-for-one deal. we can be prodigals of flesh or Prodigal as God is Prodigal. doesn’t He make all things new... even the definition of prodigal...
1. recklessly extravagant
2. having spent everything
Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been,
whatever you’ve done and whatever story you own —
you can always come home again...
When his father would throw him (her son) high up and away, straight into the air, and he’d belly laugh, suspended in full space just for a moment, just above us. And I’d touch his father on the shoulder and say, “Be careful — just don’t lose him.”
“Look.” His father would say, arms outstretched. “Look how I just have to open my arms. And he comes back to me.” And he’d fall into his father’s arms and together they’d laugh in the reunion and I can still hear them. “Just keep the arms open. He always returns.”
I know there are no guarantees that anyone comes home again.
I know sometimes what messes our life up most — is the expectation of what our life is supposed to look like. Entitlement can leave you feeling entirely empty.
I know the He only means everything to reshape us and nothing to reduce us...
“Just — no matter what story you’re carrying, Know you can always, always, always come home.”
Who, if you knew their whole story, wouldn’t you love?
He nods and forget wondering if maybe someday, some son will be a prodigal. Forget wondering if someday some prodigal son will come home again.
Because I”m the Prodigal.
I’ve been the Wayward Prodigal Parent. Prodigal in the negative sense. The wasteful one. Irresponsible in my spending.
The Prodigal Parent who’s extravagantly wasted too many gold moments, too much priceless time, too much of my spiritual inheritance on the blinking and the shiny and the fleeting. He takes his bag from my hand and I have no idea how his shoulders got so broad. We only inherit so much time.
How do you live so that when your kids think of the Grace of the Gospel, they think of you?
That’s the crux of the thing: By being the Wholehearted Prodigal Parent. Prodigal in the positive sense. The lavish one. Extravagantly, sacrificially abundant in my giving.
The Prodigal Parent who extravagantly loves, recklessly spending on sacrifice. The Prodigal Parent who wastes time waiting up, listening for, praying long.
The Prodigal Parent who lives this lavish mercy, this opulent, offensive grace.
Why hadn’t someone told me that parenting was less about avoiding prodigals but more about becoming a better Prodigal parent?
from ann voskamp at incourage...
make me a Prodigal parent as You are a Prodigal Parent. an embodiment of the Gospel of Grace. extravagent in my sacrificial spending. over the top in Love and Grace...
and give me those arms open wide waiting for God to return my child back into them. in His timing. in His perfect plan. in His way. not mine... and that always feels risky. but God knows that true love is never without risk. He created it that way. trusting in the God who gives means that we also trust Him when He takes away. reshaping us, not reducing us.
so she goes of today (and a little bit more day by day as she will be a senior next year and off to college the year after that). aren’t children always in the process of leaving? aren’t we always in the process of waiting at home like the prodigal’s father? passive searching. but not so passive as we have God’s great gift of prayer. prayer is never passive....
i know that she will leave us. she will leave our home. but she can’t leave Him. not His presence. He is the God who searches. never a passive parent. always a Perfect Parent. the God who brings His children Home. the God who created the only way Home. this i know without a doubt. she may not realize it. but i do.
i keep repeating these words, formed for me by the Spirit within me because there is no way that my feeble flesh came up with these words of their own volition...
there is no risk beyond God’s reach.
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
God is the God who makes a way home. for all the prodigals. for all the prodigal parents. it is what He does best. He holds whatever we toss into the air to Him.... or whatever we send over to europe for 10 days. He holds it in the palm of His scarred hands. no risk beyond His reach...