By Steven Davis

“I am like a wild bird in the desert, like an owl in abandoned ruins.” – Psalm 102:6 GNT

I don’t know how many calls I’ve taken from listeners of Intentional Living and before that ParentTalk. But I’m sure it’s in the tens of thousands. These calls range from disaster and heartache to victory and overwhelming joy with elongated layovers in the normal and every day. But the calls that seem to touch me the deepest are the ones from parents whose children have left the faith, have adopted a gay or lesbian lifestyle, have been victims of abuse or have become addicts of drugs or alcohol. Some parents have children who seem to have just dropped off the face of the Earth. What is a parent to do?

When they talk with Randy, his heart is evident, as is his frustration. There’s just not a lot you can do, other than pray for them, and continue to love them. And don’t give up. But it doesn’t change how you feel. That’s where the above verse comes in.

I realize that description may not only describe you, and the loneliness you feel, but it may also describe your errant child.

To have one leave or reject home, a place of safety and love and Christ’s presence, is frankly bewildering. How did this happen? Of course, the guilt sets in as you seek to ponder the things that may have driven them away. And so you feel abandoned, alone, deserted and maybe even lost. You wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” And then you feel even more abandoned and alone—just like the owl in the desert.

Maybe your child is feeling the exact same way you are, even though he is the one who left. Maybe he feels like an owl in abandoned ruins. Is that enough to cause him to turn around and come home? To abandon the foolish decisions he’s made?

There was this lost guy in the New Testament, in the book of Luke, affectionately known as “The Prodigal Son.” There is one verse in his story that seems especially applicable to this topic: “When he finally came to his senses…” In the Greek that literally means to be yourself again. And that’s important because being yourself means you know who God made you to be, who God made your child to be.

This “lost-ness”, this abandonment, started long before they walked out that door.

Now the good news is that the Prodigal Son did come to his senses, and he returned home. But not without some serious vigilance and prayer by his dad. And that may be where you are right now. There may be, however, many of you with toddlers or grade-schoolers. What do you do now in order to protect your kids and family from this heartache? A couple reminders from Dr. Randy. First, a strong marriage will help you be a strong family. Second, a strong faith will help you be a strong family. Also, you may want to check out Dr. Randy’s DVD series: The Intentional Living Process for Faith, Finances, Marriage and Parenting.

Finally a bit from my book: The Fruit of the Spirit: A 30-Day Guide to Fruitful Parenting.

The love which the Spirit gives to us in His fruit allows us to love one another:  “You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12–14 GNT).  So, the love which took Christ to the cross, took our sins to the grave, raised Jesus from the dead, forgave us and thereby saved us; love which has changed us, love which has given us the ability to love God and love people the way were supposed to—this fruit is agape love.

This love that Paul talks about in Colossians 3 is not only “one another” love, but it is also for your kids. So love them. That kind of love will help keep them. But should they lose who they are, that same love will bring them back. I guarantee you will make mistakes, but remember, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Some parents have children who seem to have just dropped off the face of the Earth. What is a parent to do? Click To Tweet

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