“If we can’t come up with $600, he’s going to jail.”
My normal day at work melted into not normal when the phone call came. It seems our teenage son had been arrested for public drunkenness. Fortunately, he hadn’t gotten his driver’s license yet or he might have been arrested for DUI.
“I guess he’s going to jail,” I said. We didn’t have $600, and I wouldn’t have paid it had I had it. And I wasn’t being hard hearted. For the last several years, our son had strayed. Into bad relationships. Into unhealthy habits—some illegal as well. And onto a path that took him far away from God. Perhaps jail would teach him a lesson, I thought.
His jail stint was short-lived. His girlfriend’s mother bailed him out. Jail time didn’t bring the wanderer home.
Years later, he’s still a stray—of sorts. He has settled down, has a good job, is in a good relationship, and will soon be a father. My hopes were lifted not long ago when he asked, “Dad, do you think that once a person is saved they are always saved?” Evidently, his straying had him wondering also. “Yes, son, if they truly meant it when they accepted Christ,” I responded. My hopes that he’d wander back to God didn’t materialize.
Jesus’ story of the two sons mirrors numerous families. Whether we call them strays, prodigals, wanderers, or black sheep matters not. Either way, they are gone…from us…from the faith. But the story also gives hope of their return and assures us God will accept them when they do. Many find hope in the verse, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6.
No path I wander away on is too far for God to welcome me home if I’ll come to my senses and repent. But I have to make up my mind to do so, be sincere in my desire, and turn around and head in the right direction. Home hasn’t moved; I have.
My son remains a stray—spiritually. And like the father, God is still waiting with open arms to welcome him home.
If you’ve wandered away, He’s still waiting for you as well. As He is for all strays.
Prayer: Father, we thank You that Your arms are always open to those who decide to come home.
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