I was on my way home from work when my wife called. She had picked up our 17 year old daughter from work. There had been an argument over some questions my wife asked her and she jumped out of the car and informed my wife that she was tired of our questions and our interfering with her life. She was not coming home, moving out.

And that is what she did.

We should have seen it coming. It was not the first confrontation but you always want to believe the best about your child.

There were many questions that went through our minds over the next days weeks and months. Most beginning with “why”. Along with the questions, emotions. Denial, anger, frustration, disappointment fear (big one) sorrow, loss.

And you remember. The day she was born so tiny and helpless. Her first steps, her smile and laughter. Her first day of school standing there with her little back-pack trying to look brave, an image captured on film and in your mind forever. Her first play at school, the first tooth she lost. The hugs and her telling you “You are the best mommy and daddy ever I love you so much”. The times you went fishing and camping, the times she wanted to be anywhere you were. Sitting with her when she was scared of the storm,  planting a tree in the front yard, when she went to the altar and gave her life to Jesus and the joy you felt as the tears ran down her face and she said “Daddy I asked Jesus into my heart”. The first time she saw the ocean, her first dance, teaching her to drive, all the firsts, all the memories…..

And you remember the time you didn’t take to spend with her, the busyness that you allowed to steal precious moments, never to be gotten back. It is easy in times like this to blame yourself for what has happened, to think “If only I had done or not done  this or that, if I had been more strict, less strict. And in many ways you are right. If only…

The truth though is that the one thing God will not control is our will. Not mine, not yours, not my daughters. It is a gift He gave us that at it’s best brings tremendous blessing, and at its worst a horrible curse.

C.S. Lewis said;

“God created things (people) with free will. That means creatures which can go right or wrong. If a person is free to be good they are also free to be bad. Freewill though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes any love or goodness or joy worth having. Of course God knew what would happen if we used our freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk”.

It has been two years since our daughter left home. Early on in our journey I read a story about a another child who left his home

 Once there was this man who had two sons. 12 One day the younger son came to his father and said, “Father, eventually I’m going to inherit my share of your estate. Rather than waiting until you die, I want you to give me my share now.” And so the father liquidated assets and divided them. 13 A few days passed and this younger son gathered all his wealth and set off on a journey to a distant land. Luke 15:12-13

Many of you have read this story, how the son wasted all his father had given him in wild irresponsible living. Broke and hungry he found himself feeding pigs, with not even enough to buy food. Broken and alone he decided that being a hired hand for his father would be better than where he was.

” So he got up and returned to his father. The father looked off in the distance and saw the young man returning. He felt compassion for his son and ran out to him, enfolded him in an embrace, and kissed him”.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him” Luke 15:20

Prodigals. All of us were at one time. Some of us still are.

It has been over two years since my daughter went on her journey. Like the father who kept watching for his sons return, I keep watching for her return.

It’s been said that the waiting is always the hardest part. For a parent watching a child go through a prodigal journey this is especially true. As hours turn into days, and days turn into months, and months turn into years, a parent can become frustrated. “It has not changed, it will never change”, we’ll say to ourselves in sorrow and sometimes anger. In these times our feelings become a terrible enemy. But we must keep praying and watching as the father in Luke 15 did—waiting for his beloved child to return. Be still and know that He is God and is able to bring her safely home.

Father it is amazing to me when I realize that Your love for my daughter is even greater than the love I have for her and that the depth of your feeling for her goes even deeper than my own. I am comforted to know that you care for them and that they are always before you. As I watch my daughter and her prodigal journey, I know that though she is now far from you that she is not out of your sight. Lord, help me to persevere in prayer for her—trusting in your ability to bring her safely home.