When someone very close to me revealed his own waywardness, I expected my world to crumble. My worst nightmare had unexpectedly come true. No matter how much I refused to accept it, this unwanted event attached itself to me… like a parasite, sucking the very life from my body, even as I tried shaking it off. But no use—it had become an unwelcome part of our family and of my daily existence.
Later that unforgettable afternoon, as numbness of initial shock subsided, I secluded myself in a room alone. Needing to breathe, to think, to pray, and to cry freely. But also to study for ministry that evening, as I could not will the earth to stop spinning while I grieved.
How I would manage, I did not know. My only hope was to pray for strength. And to face the future one agonizing hour at a time.
Opening my Bible to read where I had left off a few days earlier, my gaze fell on these words:
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH (Jehovah), the LORD, is everlasting strength. – Isaiah 26:3-4
Peace. Be still. God’s words wrapped around my soul and poured upon me the peace only He can give. As a storm like no other raged all around, threatening to destroy everything I held valuable, my God gently insisted this wretched thing would be redeemed by His almighty grace.
My heart bled. But it did not break. It only felt like it had.
(When such devastation occurs, if your heart is crushed, take it to God. He is the mender and healer of broken things.)
Looking back I could see the signs. I felt grateful He had allowed the pain to come slowly, in bits and pieces. I had known all was not well, but hoped and prayed my fears were unfounded. Expecting my heart and my life to disintegrate into pieces—fragments to be blown away on the winds of trial and time—I was soon surprised at how both survived, day after day, hour after hour…
And God was there. For me, my family, and for my wayward child.
I had been told, when you lose your family, you lose your ministry. Yet I discovered just the opposite. In weeks to come whenever I opened my mouth to ask for prayer, I found immediate connection. Jaws dropped, eyes riveted, and profound understanding and identification were offered to me, with the promise, yes, to pray. Relationships with other women have deepened, prompting them to ask of me, a wounded and faulty mother: would you pray for… would you share with… would you teach us?
During the days and weeks following, this child’s name could not pass my lips, nor could his face appear before my eyes, without tears. The moment my head rested on my pillow in dark of night, mental images replayed every mistake, every harshness, every impatience—causing more tears to flow. Circumstances now viewed in a different light, I longed to change if only the hands of time could be re-wound.
I am weary with my groaning; all night I soak my pillow with tears, I drench my couch with my weeping. – Psalm 6:6
As accusing fingers pointed my way, I wanted to blame God…
You knew this would happen, I cried… Day after day I begged for wisdom, sought counsel from those older and wiser, and poured over Your Word. Yet You did not provide what my child says he wanted and needed, when You could have. You’ve done so for others in similar situations, and I looked to You for guidance; I trusted You for success. So why didn’t You lead us differently? Why didn’t You work things out the way we had hoped?
As my wayward child struggled, I struggled.
Yet God’s whispers nudged my thoughts upward, instructing and reminding me:
I will be the Parent now. It is your place to pray, to trust, to continue doing right. I knew what I was doing even though it appears grievously messy. All these things will work for good. Your child’s story is not over yet. There is hope, and you will survive this heartbreak, with each of you becoming stronger in the refining.
But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. – Job 23:10
God’s peace washed over me time and again, with the reminder that my sins have been removed from His view, as far as the east is from the west.
As my inner struggling lessened, I remembered the good among the bad I had been accused of. And there was much good. His childhood hadn’t been ideal—for some unknown reason he had been given an extra measure of challenges during his life. And although God had given wisdom liberally whenever I asked, my humanity still leaked out. As it will do in a fallen world.
It was then I remembered: we are all wayward children. Yes, some are more stubborn than others and insist on learning everything the hard way. But too many times, we prefer our own methods to His, including me.
When guilt is surrendered to grace, there is forgiveness. – Ravi Zacharias
To be continued…
(Scripture photo courtesy of Dan Croft.)