Longing for Christ

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
- But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
- And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.
(Luke 15:21-24 KJV)

While I was waiting in the car for the rest of my party to arrive at the restaurant where we were having lunch, the cell phone conversation being carried on on the patio was loud enough to get my attention. He was young, no more than twenty, with a clean cut look about him. We hear all the time that the new face of drug and alcohol abuse is no longer the disheveled, shady look of days past, but more the boy or girl next day and the story that unfolded in front of me certainly gave credence to that fact.

He confessed he had been thrown out of his parents’ house, and then a neighbor’s in the middle of the night for his disruptive behavior. Pacing in the way the young do when they are excited about the subject of their conversation, he was bragging about dropping out of school, going on a bender that resulted in his car winding up totaled in a ditch and him being jailed on a drunk driving charge.

All of this was delivered in a joking way, the same lighthearted tone anyone would use in bringing a friend up to speed on what has been transpired since you last spoke. It didn’t take a professional to determine this young man was treading very close to disaster, the kind you may not come back from. But tucked into all of this bravado was one telling remark about how his father was handling the situation. From what he said it seemed his father was walking the high wire between doing what the emotions that were running high would dictate, or opting for a more measured, forgiving approach. In the end he came down on the side of coming to the aid of his son, who related his father had said, “You need to make better decisions.” I am sure this was in no small part due to him simply being relieved it was the car and not his son who was lost in the crash.

Back during the time when Mosaic law was enacted, the option given an Israelite father in the event of an undisciplined son was one we now consider barbaric. In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, the Mosaic law relates the fate of a rebellious son as consisting of being taken to the town elders where the men present would stone him to death to make an example of him. In the New Testament, Jesus’ answer to a similar scenario is contained in the parable of the prodigal son, where the wayward son is welcomed home with a warm embrace and a celebration thrown in his behalf. It should be said Jesus was careful to preface this with the son in the story repenting of his sins. 

When faced with the kind of difficult decisions the father in my story is facing, we can welcome and forgive our children when they stray, but as much as we would like, we cannot take the crucial extra step of repentance for them. Their decision will be an individual one, just as it was for each of us. What we can do is pray for their safety, their sobriety, but most of all for them to face the reality that they need for God to be the driving force in their lives instead of giving into the temptations which the world uses to lure them away. Some of these youth are thrill seekers, some merely trying to deaden a nagging emotional pain. Whatever the case, their search always springs from a deep ill-defined longing only knowing Christ can satisfy. Pray the person in your life, like the prodigal son, finds their way to their spiritual home.

Blessed Jesus, Please aid us in finding the best possible care for our troubled youth, not just medical or psychological help, but spiritual as well.

Carol (NC)