Imagine the distress of opening my teen’s bedroom door to awaken a late sleeper, only to find an empty bed. Fear accelerated my heart rate with an intense jolt.
Not knowing your child’s whereabouts, even for a moment, is like a sucker punch to the stomach. Nauseous and unsure of what hit you, nothing can console until a million questions have been answered.
The key to living with prodigals: be prepared for anything, including empty beds, empty wallets, empty hearts.
Over the course of time, the unknown lurking around the corner becomes the turning wheels of the ultimate emotional roller coaster ride; every day there are new highs and lows, twists and turns. We become conditioned by the constant sine wave of emotions cycling between extremes.
Like my recent morning panic when I realized my teen did not come home the night before. Prior to the discovery and the frantic search, I was enjoying a quiet morning and an extra cup of coffee while accomplishing tasks before my family awakened.
Have you ever experienced a day when things were progressing smoothly and you were being productive but then, because of an unexpected turn of events, you get whiplash from things coming to a screeching halt?
The taxing season of sinusoidal living leaves us with a breathless need for God’s steadfastness.
God says in Malachi 3:6 (NIV): “ I the Lord do not change.”
His love doesn’t rise and fall according to a barometer of feelings. His promises do not change with the shifting wind. His generous hand does not open and close on a whim.
Only the Unchanging One can fulfill our craving for steadfastness. He is the steady hand we need for the unsteady days we spend with prodigals. He helps us in the highs and lows by remaining the same. Always.
God meets our need to keep things the same, by being the One who never changes.
In Malachi’s day, the people of God were as fickle as the teenager in the next room. When God told them He loved them, they asked, “How?” When God told them He was weary by their broken promises, they asked, “Why?” When God accused them of robbing Him, they asked, “When?”
My children’s questions are eerily similar to theirs when they fail to believe in my love for them when things aren’t going their way. They break the promises they make and then lie about it. And when they have an unmet need, they will use any means to get what they want, even stealing.
All families share the emotional highs and lows in this Biblical illustration. God’s way is the best way to deal with the ebb and flow: steadfast love, steadfast promises, steadfast giving.
Only through the strength and support given to us by our Unchanging God, can we endure the rhythm of life that accompanies our prodigals. Only through God’s steadfastness can we be steadfast for our children.
An emotional roller coaster of fear and relief carried me through the surprise of finding an empty bed a few years ago. Finally located at a friend’s house, the feeling of euphoria dissipated into anger along with questions, lectures, and grounding.
Around every corner is a surprise. How are you dealing with the twists and turns? Are you securely strapped in for the emotional ride of your life?
While we wait, like God’s people in Malachi, we must ask ourselves the same questions:
How has God loved me? (Malachi 1:2)
Naming the specific ways I have seen God’s love in my life assures me of its truth. To count them will be strong proof that His steadfast love is real. Because He first loved me, my doubt is replaced with a renewed love for Him.
Why have I wearied God? (Malachi 2:17)
What promises have I failed to keep? With whom have I been unfaithful or unjust? When we are someone who keeps our word, then we become someone who can be trusted. Others will know our faith is genuine by the promises we keep. Our children will monitor this closer than anyone else. Let’s choose to keep our word as we experience God’s steadfast promises to us.
When have I robbed God?(Malachi 3:8)
Have I withheld from Him what is rightfully His? God knows the generosity of my heart. He knows when I withhold time, money, or love. He wants me to bring it all to Him. When we do, we will experience His steadfast giving; He will “throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” ( Mal. 3:10, NIV)
Trusting in our Unchanging God does not stop the roller coaster ride onto which children unwillingly drag us, but it allows us to face each distressing loop and every scary dip with His steadfast love, secure promise, and generous spirit which, in turn, keeps us grounded and steady no matter how high we rise or how low we fall.
Waiting with you,