Friday, February 29, 2008

Prodigal sons and daughters come home

“My adopted son rejected the Christian faith and my world was collapsing before me.” Dr. Paul Kooistra shared about his pain before an audience of 80 people. I sat there in the sanctuary listening to his story with transfixed eyes. His son’s open rebellion brought shame to Dr. Paul and he did not know where to hide his face. Isn’t the pastor supposed to be a role model for the congregation? Does that mean he has to leave the pastorate because he could not manage his family well? During the period of her son waywardness, Dr. Paul’s wife demonstrated unconditional love by persistently and consistently through actions and words affirming her son that ‘there is nothing he does that will stop her from loving him.’ He never ceased to be their son even when he turned his back on them. Eventually the ‘prodigal son’ came home. In Dr. Paul’s words, God’s covenantal love reached out to his son.

Another heart wrenching story was told by Dr. Paul that gripped my heart. He told a true story of a pastor whose daughter rebelled against her parents. The story was written into a book entitles “Come Back, Barbara.” “Mom, Dad, I don’t want your rules and morals. I don’t want to act like a Christian anymore! And I am not going to,” Barbara barked at her father at age 18. As her father desperately tried every possible ways to win her heart, Barbara grew more resentful, choosing a path of immorality that only deepened her parents’ pain. Barbara dropped out from school and lived with a man. Eventually they got married but the relationship was short lived. She then married a drug trafficker who was wealthy. “Everyone was horrified. I had left Tom and moved in with a drug dealer who carried money in his briefcase and a gun in his belt.” Her father could only watch in silence and at a distance completely helpless. During those dark periods, he became to talk less but prayed more. Barbara could never understand the agony, the frustration, the wounded feeling of her father. As a pastor he had to preach, to council and to provide pastoral care for the hurting ones in his church and yet he had to hide his tears from the crowd. He carried the wound silently in his heart. Sadly Barbara lived in luxury oblivious to the pain of her parents. However, the opulent lifestyle did not bring happiness to her. Finally she moved out of that relationship and drifted into another one. Her father’s faith was tested to the limit. The more he prayed, it seemed the further she moved away from God and from the family.

For parents, the pain of watching their children move in wrong directions, knowing that no word of rebuke or drastic action will reach and change them, can be overwhelming. Barbara’s story is not uncommon.

Pastor John Miller and his wife persevered in their belief of the faithfulness of God. They continued to trust in the covenant keeping God who is sovereign and who is working out his purpose for Barbara. Their persistent love and unconditional love finally won Barbara over. Barbara remarried and together with her husband, Angelo, went to study in Bible seminary. Barbara is a Bible teacher, editor, and conference speaker. They founded the youth ministry at New Life Presbyterian Church. Who would have thought that Barbara would reconcile with her family and renew her relationship with God? Not even pastor John Miller! When the fog seemed thick, the cloud was dense and dark, a pilot has to believe that the aviation instruments are working and reliable. In the darkest hour, one has to place his hand into the hand of the loving God who is wise and powerful and walks in faith.

I think of many friends I know whose children have become wayward. My heart goes out to them. As I heard the story and read the book, I know the prodigal sons and daughters will surely come home one day. It’s just a matter of time.

"When the prodigal son finally came to his he returned home to his father..." (Luke 15:11-32)


Tracy Tan said...

Pastor, as I embark on a new phase in life with our adopted baby, I feel a burden to bring him up in a Godly way but I know that even the best of teachings may not lead the child on the right path. What you have shared is insightful and I pray to persevere like these Godly people.

Sarah said...

Dad, this is an issue that's close to my heart. I even wrote a paper about it last month!

Wong Fong Yang said...

Hi Tracy,
Glad that you are adopting a baby. Everyone is entitled to live and to be loved. I am sure you have a lot of love to give.

Hi Sarah,
Can I have your paper? I enjoy reading your critique on Obama's speech. Your asignment on dysfunctional family must tbe equally enlightening

yennie said...

Hi, Pastor
Thank you for all the enlightening and refreshing chats that we had. I enjoy reading your blog tremendously.

I linked my blog with yours.