My Mess, His Message

The Prodigal Returns

After 5 months of living with my boyfriend, and abandoning my previous life with family and God at 17 years old, I was feeling pretty helpless. I expected a lot more fun and excitement than I experienced. Life was hard! Who knew!?

It was now summertime – school had let out and we pretty much just worked every day. I still worked at the department store and my boyfriend had a new job with a construction company. We had recently purchased a new “used” car and a motorcycle that was close to inoperable. I was doing my best to learn how to drive a stick shift and was starting to get the hang of it. Ever since I moved in with my boyfriend, I had to rely on him to drive me everywhere I needed to go – so this was a new found freedom in being able to drive our new car. Every day I would drive my boyfriend to his construction site and then I’d drive myself to work.

That June my oldest brother came to town and he wanted to meet up. Now that I had the freedom of driving the new car, I was able to meet up with him after dropping my boyfriend off at his job site one afternoon. I met by brother at the Taco Villa that was close to my work – he didn’t want to meet me at the apartment and I couldn’t blame him! (Side note: Taco Villa is THE BEST fast food Mexican food restaurant EVER! Although my husband argues that Amigos in Nebraska is the best ever. I’ll admit Amigos is pretty good, but Taco Villa is better! Love you, Babe!)

It was so great to see my brother. We talked a little about what was going on with each of us, but we mostly talked about me. He asked me what life was like and how I was doing. I have to admit that during and after our conversation, I was feeling pretty convicted about how I was living. I knew I shouldn’t be smoking and drinking and I certainly knew that I shouldn’t be living with my boyfriend.  I don’t remember the specifics of our conversation, but I remember feeling so lost that day.

We made plans to meet the next day again for lunch, so I proceeded to Taco Villa after dropping off “the boy” at his work. I remember crying during our conversation. I told my brother how lost and how trapped I felt. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew I wasn’t living the life that God had planned for me. So my brother asked me, “Why don’t you go home? Why don’t you leave?”. I couldn’t leave – I explained it to him. My boyfriend would come back and get me – he would know exactly where I was. He had done it once before – he would do it again.

Then he asked me again. “Why don’t you just leave?” It sounded so easy! It sounded so simple! Just leave. Just pack up your stuff and go home.

Our conversation swirled in my head all day long. Why didn’t I just leave? Why didn’t I just pack up my stuff and go home? It’s not like my parents wouldn’t receive me – they would. I was just afraid of what he would do if I left.

That’s when God gave me the courage I needed to decide. I was going to leave. I was going to go home. Yes, I was terrified of how my boyfriend would react. Yes, I was nervous about how my parents would respond. I didn’t care though. God had given me the strength that I needed to step out in faith and get home as fast as I could!

Note: The fear I felt was not from the Lord. The fear that I felt was from the enemy, the deceiver who was trying to keep me in a hopeless situation. God is bigger than any fear. Jesus is bigger than the enemy and has overcome.

                … Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

                “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

The next morning I dropped off my boyfriend at work and I frantically set my plan into motion. I didn’t want to use our car because I didn’t want anything to tie me to my boyfriend. My brother had already left town, so I was determined to have my other older brother help me. I knew what apartment complex he lived in, just not the specific apartment. I went to the apartment office and begged the office manager to give me his apartment number – or to at least call him and let him know I needed him. She wouldn’t help me and I felt utterly defeated. How in the world could I leave if I didn’t have someone to help me?

When I got back to my apartment, I searched everywhere for his phone number and I couldn’t find it anywhere! I had just talked to him a week before, so it had to be there somewhere! Finally I found it in the trashcan! I called – no answer. I called again – no answer. I kept calling and calling until he finally picked up. His groggy voice on the other line asked me what I wanted and when I told him that I needed him to come get me, he alertly responded, “I’ll be right there”.

My heart started pounding as I waited for him to show up. It literally only took him a few minutes to get there. He and his best friend came to my rescue. I had all of my things (what there was that I actually owned!) ready to go and they had me out of that place in a matter of minutes. He drove me straight back to my parents’ house – to my house.

When we got there, the house was empty. My parents and younger brother had gone that weekend to visit my grandma – they were due to return later that day. After we moved my things back in and my brother left, I put all of my things back in order in my room. Later that afternoon my parents drove up. I held my breath as I walked outside to meet them.

My dad approached me asked me what I was doing there. With my heart racing, I responded, “I live here”. My dad asked me if it was for good and I said yes. I couldn’t tell if he was happy or upset that I was there, but then he grabbed me and hugged me – then came my mom and my little brother. It was a time of tears and embracing.

After we unloaded the car, my mom took me to the grocery store to get food for a celebration. We barbequed that night and celebrated my return. We celebrated the reunion of our family. We also celebrated my dad – it was his birthday. It wasn’t until I was in the car with my brother driving to the house that I realized that it was my dad’s birthday that day.

God wants to give His children the desires of their hearts. I believe that God answered a prayer for my parents that day. In addition to me getting out of a situation where I felt trapped, God also brought my parents’ little girl home – a special present for my father on his birthday. Despite all of the different ways they could have responded to me, they chose love. They embraced me, accepted me, forgave me and loved me. Like my Savior, they never left me and never forsake me. This would not be the last time that my parents responded this way to one of my transgressions.

You may be familiar with the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. A man’s younger son asks his father to give him his share of the estate early, before his father had passed away. Shortly after the father divided his estate between his two sons, the younger son left home for a distant country. While he was there he “squandered his wealth in wild living” (v. 13). After he lost all of his wealth, there was famine in the land and the son found himself in need. He hired himself out and quickly desired to eat the slop that he was feeding the pigs that he was hired to care for. Quickly he realized that his own father treated his servants better than this and that he could go home and ask his father to hire him. His father saw him approaching the house and ran out to greet him with love and embracing. His father immediately instructed his servants to bring the best robe, but a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet and prepare a feast to celebrate.

There is more to this parable, but I want to focus on how the father responded to his son. After being disrespected and abandoned by his son, he could have responded in so many other ways. He had probably felt rejected, used, disrespected, angry, hurt, saddened – and the list could go on. Despite all of these emotions, he responded in love – the trademark of someone who is truly following Christ. He embraced and kissed his son and treated his son like royalty – throwing a celebration in his honor. This is exactly how my parents responded that day in June 1998.

I can easily see the heart of Jesus in my parents. I am so thankful for their compassion, their endurance through those rough months, their continuous prayers and their love. I knew in the moment they embraced me that this was a recoverable situation for me. I wouldn’t be shunned. I wouldn’t be rejected. I would be loved. I would heal. I would get my life back. And most importantly I would not be alone – although I was never truly alone. My Gracious, Merciful, Forgiving, Healing, Loving Heavenly Father was with me the entire time, preserving me for the future plans he had for my life. Thank you, Jesus!

What I Learned:

  • God’s will and plan will prevail for His children. He kept me protected and preserved, knowing that He would one day rescue me from my sin.
    • Side note: Many people might not see me as protected and preserved because I was now a smoking, drinking, deflowered young woman; however I disagree. This situation could have been much worse and I could have fallen even further away from God.  
  • God provided a way for my rescue through my older brothers. Even when there were clear obstacles to my success in leaving, He provided the phone number I so desperately needed. I am NOT the type of person who regularly digs in the trash for things I can’t find. I would have never thought to look there on my own – thank you, Jesus!
  • There are times to pray and there are times to act. This was a time to act! God provided me with a way out of my situation and I had to jump up and DO SOMETHING!! We can’t expect Him to do everything. He provided a way and I was responsible to take action!!
  • God wants to give His children the desires of their hearts. Just as God was rescuing me from my desperation, He was answering a prayer from my parents.
  • Jesus’ love is bigger than any transgression. I felt His love through my parents’ response to my return home.

Refining Time:

  • Are you a prodigal who needs to return home? What is the situation that you need to return from?
  • How will you allow God to intervene in your life to bring restoration?
  • What is preventing you from allowing God to intervene in your life to bring restoration?
  • Are you the parent of a prodigal? How can you prepare for your prodigal’s return?
  • In what spirit will you receive your prodigal? One of anger, resentment and hurt? Or one of love, acceptance and forgiveness?

I pray that if you are in a situation where you feel hopeless and helpless that you will allow our God to enter into your life. He has a plan and purpose for you – plans to give you hope and a future. If you need prayer, please contact me privately – I will be a confidential prayer warrior for you.

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Comments on: "The Prodigal Returns" (2)

  1. Vickie Bucy said:

    My dear Heather,
    I just completed reading your blog. I cried as I thought it the past. Is you were going through these difficult days, we were honored to pray for you and your family. Keith and I love you and always will. How wonderful that our heavenly father for gifts each of us all are ugly sins. You’re a beautiful woman forgiven by glorious King. Hugs and kisses to you my dear Heather. May the Lord bless and keep you. Vickie

    • Vickie, I was just thinking about you and how much time you and Keith invested in me. Thank you for your prayers and for taking such an interest in me. I have been so blessed through our relationship and know that God has touched me through it. You and Keith are very precious people to me. Thank you for reading!

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