"On your feet, He's calling you." Mark 10:49
I don’t think I ever truly loved anyone so absolutely unreservedly until the doctor placed a squirming little morsel of humanity on my chest and the nurses lifted my head so I could see my newborn. It was as if the spirits of every mother from Eve to the present gathered around the head of the delivery table and said, “Now you are really going to learn about unconditional love!”
True. Too true. The slog through the Valley of the Shadow of Death required to birth a baby is a cakewalk compared to the rigors of childrearing. Like all mothers, I have needed to draw heavily on that God-given reserve of love for patience, wisdom, and endurance for that trek. But even childrearing is a stroll-in-the-park compared to the hand-to-hand combat with Satan for the souls of each of our four children.
This was never truer than for our youngest son. After the tragic loss of a son and several miscarriages, my husband and I were blessed to adopt to complete our family.
Some children are born with sunny dispositions and eager to please, but our last son came into the world indignant about the cold hands of delivery room nurse, the doctor’s bad breath, and slow service in getting him a bottle. He was angry and opinionated for the next 20 years and adolescence was all-out warfare. The school actually had my phone number on speed dial. We tried everything and later discovered that he had some contributing medical problems. None of this changed our love for and commitment to our son, but it certainly tested it.
There were literally hundreds of nights when all I did was pray, begging God for wisdom and to heal and save our wayward son. I felt like I was trailing the Good Shepherd through the darkness, edging sheer cliffs, fighting wolves, as we searched for this lost lamb.
I’ll admit it: I very often felt discouraged. Yet, like the persistent mother Jesus encountered (Matthew 15, Mark 7), I had just enough stubborn faith to keep begging God to help and heal.
From my perspective, the story of the persistent mother is a tragic comedy with a happy ending. In the story, Jesus is visiting Tyre on the seacoast. The Scriptures don’t say what He is doing there—resting, preaching, shopping—but a mother attaches herself to Him, begging for mercy for her demon-possessed child and refuses to leave His side. The disciples are peeved. They don’t care about the suffering of the child or the mother. They want peace and quiet!
Here is just one of the heartbreaks experienced by the parents of wayward children: Not only are their children at risk, their Christian friends may not be very supportive. They may not know what to say. Or they are full of those irritating pat answers. Often, my husband and I found comfort and help at Al-Anon that we did not find at church. That should not and need not be the case.
Fortunately, Jesus never tired of our neediness. Nor did He tire of the pleading of the relentless mother.
The comedy portion takes place in the clever, almost playful repartee between Jesus and the persistent mother. He says (paraphrase), “I can’t help you. I’m sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
“Help me anyway,” the mother begs.
“It’s not right to take the children’s meat and give it to the dogs.”
“True. But even dogs gets crumbs.”
At this point, you can almost here Jesus laugh with delight at her stubborn confidence in His goodness and grace. “You have great faith! Your daughter is healed!”
And joy of joys, she was!
Regardless of the attitude of the disciples, prevailing religious snobbery, or any discouragement, the mother trusted and doggedly pursued the compassionate heart of Jesus. Every despairing parent can, too.
One night, when the situation with my son looked hopeless, I had a vision. In it, I was carrying my son through a dark, foggy night over rocky terrain. He was heavy and the way was difficult but I would not set him down. I carried him uphill until I could go no farther. I looked up and before me was the cross and Jesus hanging upon it, His blood dripping down. In wonder and awe, I touched His blood and immediately, I felt stronger, hopeful, empowered, wiser.
And I knew what to do; I prayed the prayer every mother must pray for her child whether that child is prodigal or not: “By the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, bring every thought and imagination of my child’s mind, every emotion of his heart, every deed of his hands, and every step that he takes under Your Lordship. Lead him to love You with all of his heart, mind, and soul, and his neighbor as himself.”
With that, I touched him with the blood of Jesus. Then I asked the Lord, “What now?”
He said, “Leave him with Me.”
I laid my son at the foot of the cross. Although the vision ended, in my heart, there my son remains.
I still pray for my son, but I pray in confidence now rather than out of desperation and fear. Like the persistent mother, I have laid him at Jesus’ feet. His love is healing him. Jesus wants my son to be well, too.
I have prayed the prayer of the persistent mother with many mothers and grandmothers struggling to bring their children to mental and spiritual health in a world where Satan actively seeks to destroy them. We will stay on our knees pleading for the healing of our children’s souls until we receive what we seek, all the while believing in the powerful love of Jesus whose crumbs heal.
Ministry Tips to Help Parents of Prodigals (POPs)
1. Acknowledge that prodigals happen despite the best efforts of parents. After all, God had two perfect children in a perfect world and was the perfect Parent but wound up with two prodigals (Adam and Eve).
2. Pray God’s protection over the children of POPs. The terror of every POPs is that their children will not only miss out on the peace and joy of knowing Christ now, but also eternally live separated from Him
3. Encourage POPs to let the Holy Spirit do His work and for them to cultivate a joyous relationship with their children. It is tempting for many POPs to focus only on the state of their children’s eternal souls and drive them further away from God.
4. Pray that God will give POPs special wisdom and sensitivity to their children’s needs. The parent-child bond needs to be strengthened regardless of the state of the child’s soul. As it is strengthened, the child is drawn away from his rebellion against the Lord.
© Rebekah Montgomery 2007
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Rebekah Montgomery, author/speaker/teacher, is a gifted, dynamic communicator. She is the author of more than five books and has penned 1,100 articles. She shares tough real-life topics and biblical application in a simple easy to grasp manner. To book Rebekah for your next event visit www.rebekahmontgomery.com. Rebekah is also the editor of Right to the Heart of Women and a publisher at Jubilant Press.