If today was the last day you had on earth, what would you do and who would you be with?
How old were you when you turned back to Jesus?
What made you surrender your life to Jesus? How did you hear His call?
What brought the prodigal daughter "home to God"?
Can you tell a couple of these people must know a bit of my story? Either that or they are just assuming that I walked away from Jesus!! As I look back over the past 20 months since my life changed I can clearly see Jesus' hand in it all. I can say the same thing about most of my life. I will try to explain a little bit.
I was born into a Christ centered home. My dad was the dean of students at two different Christian colleges and my mom was blessed to be able to stay home with us kids. (well, I think it was a blessing, don't ask her) So hearing about God was just a part of everyday life. When I was 5 I told my mom that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart and I would say from that moment on, I know that I was a child of God.
Fast forward a year or so and my dad became sick with leukemia. He died 3 years later on New Year's Day. I was 9. My brothers were 11 and 4. My mom was just 32. I could NOT believe it. Didn't God hear me? I had prayed that my dad would be fine. But it wasn't to be.
When I was 11, my mom remarried and we moved from Illinois to Michigan. I was in the 6th grade and not at all happy about any of it. I did not want a new dad. Didn't know why my mom needed a husband anyway. And I was livid that I had to leave my friends! I think that's when the beginning of the anger really started. I still loved God and attended church. Very involved in the youth group. Tried doing the right things. UNTIL...high school.
Wow, did you know how much fun you could have if you didn't follow the rules? I never denied my faith but I certainly didn't live it out. High school led to college which just led to more "living" and eventually I married. That marriage ended in divorce 3 years later. All this time I was not attending church. Nobody would have imagined that I was a believer.
Eventually I married Don. My parents had been very involved in Bible Study Fellowship, which is a non-denominational international Bible study. There was a children's program in BSF that you could take your children to once they turned 2. So, once David was old enough my mom strongly suggested that I attend. I did, but only for the sake of David. That first year we studied Moses. All the grumbling and complaining that the Israelites did even though God never left them and always provided. Hmmm...I saw just a little bit of myself in there.
One night I remember laying in my bed and telling God that He could have total control of my life again. I was giving myself back over to Him. It had been more years than I care to count since I had said anything like that to God. By this time I was around 29.
Slowly and I mean very slowly, I began to give more and more of myself to God. When I prayed the prayer that night telling God He could have total control, I didn't really mean it. Or maybe I just really didn't understand fully. It was not until almost 3 years later that I began attending church again. By this time we have two children and are a little more ready to "settle down". I loved the church and it didn't take me long to throw myself fully into serving. With youth. With women's Bible studies. You name it! But I will be honest and tell you that God still did not have all of me.
Now, fast forward MANY more years to June 2007 when I became ill. God got my attention. No I don't think He planned my illness but He certainly allowed it. Finally my life fully belongs to my Savior. Finally I believe He really loves me. Finally I know that He is all I need. Finally I am free from all the bondage that entangled me for years. Finally!! He never left me. Not in these past 20 months and not when I turned away from Him all those years ago. He waited with open arms ready to welcome me home.
So...what brought the prodigal daughter home? Jesus' love. How old was I when I turned back to Jesus? Technically, 29, but it is a choice I make daily. What made me surrender my life and how did I hear His call? I knew I couldn't do it alone. I knew I didn't want to. I heard His call through His faithfulness to me when I wasn't faithful to Him. Lastly, if today was my last day on earth, what would I do and who would I be with? I would share Jesus mostly with my children. I would want them to grasp what His love is really like. There is nothing I would really want to do but be assured that they fully understand who God is.
Moms (and dads) of prodigals: keep praying
Prodigals: it's never too late
HE is worth it! This journey has been long. Full of bumps. Many heartaches. Lifelong consequences. Lots of mercy. But it's nowhere near over. I am excited to see where He is taking me next. Healing? Who knows. Marriage? Who knows. HE KNOWS!