Blog Article

Prodigals and the Grandparents Who Love Them

Written by Deb del Villar, Director of Communications

As grandparents, what do you do when 3 John 4 is not your reality – for your children or grandchildren?

You are not experiencing the great joy – instead, great sorrow might be your testimony.

Are you one of the many grandparents who scan the horizon hoping for a glimpse of your prodigal child or grandchild – the one who left for the far country so long ago?

You have prayed and prayed, searched and searched the highways and byways, yet still are waiting.

Or maybe you are one who heard the shuffling of chains as the next group of prisoners were brought up the stairs for their turn in court.

You sat there stunned, wondering how did we get here? What could we have done differently? Scenes of the last hours, days, weeks, years flooding before your tear-filled eyes while you willed your body to breathe.

Or yet maybe communication is still open and free unless you speak of Jesus and your faith.

Life for them is open and free too, yet they have not experienced true liberty in Christ. They are looking for it in the culture, the world.  And your heart yearns for them.

What comes to your mind when the word ‘prodigal’ is spoken? Is it the biblical account or a real account?

No matter the type of prodigal you may have in your family, God knows and understands. It affects His heart too!

Because of our Father’s great love for us, we can have hope!

You Are Not Alone

Our job, but truly our blessing, is to teach/live our faith, so our children and grandchildren can understand and catch it!

You may have been diligent in this, yet your children or grandchildren have walked away.

According to Rob Rienow in his book, When They Turn Away, the majority of empty nest Christian parents (2 out of 3) have at least one child who is not a believer or who is not walking with the Lord.

You are not alone! So what are we to do?

Remember God is Faithful

We can go to God and His Word – always the best place to start.

God has many instances recorded where His people – His children – strayed from Him, yet He never strayed from them.

God remained faithful, always ready to forgive when His people repented and cried out to Him. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

May we be that example of trusting that God is there working even when we do not see it.

May we be that example of keeping the lines of communication open with our prodigals, showing that unconditional love.

May we be full of grace and truth, empowered by the Spirit who will help us to perform this balancing act.

A Great Example

The parable of the lost son gives us a great example (Luke 15:11-31). We do not know the amount of time that passed, but it gives the impression it was a long while.

May we be like the father in the parable of the lost son – waiting and watching – expecting today to be the day!

That father never stopped loving, hoping for, and expecting the reunion. No matter the reports that might have come to him, he kept on scanning the horizon for his boy – his son!

Remain Hopeful

Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation, a possibility, and a desire for a certain thing to happen. You want it to be true.

The opposite is pessimism, hopelessness, despair, doubt, fear, discouragement, and unbelief – to just give up.

On any given day, where do you fall? What do you do if you fall into discouragement, despair?

Remain Prayerful

We may not be able to talk to our children or grandchildren, but we can talk to God.

Go boldly and often to the throne of grace and receive the mercy and help you need (Hebrews 4:16).

Cry out to God. Ask others to join you. Join with others who are also struggling, upholding one another in prayer.

Focus on God’s Promises

Lift your eyes to the hills from where your help comes.

I think often of the Israelites in the wilderness, wandering and wandering, due to their sin. There are so many applications to a prodigal wandering.

When the Israelites were being bitten by the poisonous snakes and told to look up to the bronze serpent on the pole to be healed, I cannot help but wonder if they thought, “No, I am not going to take my eyes off these snakes. I have got to make sure I do not let one bite me.”

Yet God told them to look up to be healed. We need to remember to focus on God and His promises, not the circumstances in front of us. Easy to say – just ask the Israelites.

Just ask the grandma that got a late-night call that her grandson has just been arrested or saw his face on the nightly news or name in the paper.

Just ask the grandpa who has thought through every word he spoke and everything he did, and wondered what else he could have said or done.

It’s not easy to walk this path, but walk it we must. With God’s strength, we will finish.

Conclusion

We understand you may still be yearning and watching for the long-awaited celebration of one who returns home!

We hope to support, encourage, and cheer you on as you walk, or even at times crawl, or even if you are at a dead stop.

So as we walk this path together, may we exhibit God’s steadfast, immovable, lavish love to our prodigals, even while not condoning the behavior.  

Remember, even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

May we cling to His promises and trust His heart. I know firsthand that God’s word and His comfort will sustain you during times when the prodigal runs far away from your love and care.

Our prodigals cannot outrun God’s love nor His Reach!

Keep your eyes down the path: “when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him.”

Editor’s Note: We would like to offer hope and strength while also empathizing with you as you travel this painfully hard path. The next two posts are written by Dr. Joannie DeBrito. The first post will cover why children and grandchildren stray, and the second one shares reasons why they disengage completely. The second one has lots of Scripture to carry you through those hard dark days and nights.

11 thoughts on “Prodigals and the Grandparents Who Love Them”

  1. Such an encouraging article.Thank you
    When I do keep my eyes on Jesus with expectation I have assurance and trust that my children and grandchildren are in His capable and loving hands . I know that My Father in heaven hears my prayers and answers me.

  2. Thank you for sending us hope by discussing this topic. It’s so easy as a parent of an adult child that has left the faith to become discouraged the more amount of time that passes and the further the calls and texts become. So thank you for giving us hope with these sessions.

  3. Exactly what I needed to hear today. All is not lost. It’s biblical reminders such as this that helps this Blocked Grandma surrender all my agony and confusion at the feet of Jesus.

  4. This is such an excellent article and well written! I am not in this situation, but will definitely use it to share with those I know who are. Thank you, Deborah!

  5. I’m one of those 2/3 who has a prodigal, but God IS faithful and heard my plea to bring him home to the Lord. When I left the choir yesterday to sit with family, my son who has moved to Florida to be with a girl he met this summer was there in church with his son and the girlfriend! They all needed to hear the message from Romans. I had some happy tears dripping and pray that the message will penetrate each heart. It was the first time in years that he’s been to church!

  6. I am encouraged that God loves my adult children more than I do, and desires them to be with Him in eternity. God holds them, and will bring people into their lives to draw them closer to Him in ways that I, as a parent, am unable to. I have released my children into God’s Hands, and am comforted that He IS ABLE to do exceedingly, abundantly, far over, above, and beyond all that I could ever dare ask or think in their hearts and lives. All for the glory of our Lord. Beth

  7. Growing up, I idolized my prayer warrior grandmother and always wanted to immulate her with my own 7 grandkids, but our own kids went through divorces and refuse to have any relationship with us because we still talk to their exes. Our daughter-in-law is very bitter towards our son and because I won’t join her in badmouthing our son she has forbidden us to see her kids. They only live a mile away but she always has an excuse for keeping them from us. I am heartbroken. Their are 4 kids ranging in age from 10 to 14.

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