“I’m just trying to keep him alive, until the Lord can do something with him.”
That’s what a girlfriend in Christ told me once about one of her nephews, or grandsons, or children. I don’t remember which.
Prodigal children – I have been a Christian adult long enough to notice that every family’s got some.
In the parable told by Christ, the Prodigal comes home.
I happen to know from experience, that not every Prodigal comes home alive.
Every Christian pastor probably gets the question, multiple times from multiple sources, worded in various ways: “What can I do to keep from losing my children. And: how can I make sure that GOD doesn’t lose my children?” (This is worded various ways. I am speaking more pointedly than most would dare to speak.)
When I was a senior in high school, I took an honors Creative Writing class. One of my classmates, Joy, was a decent writer. She and I weren’t friends in high school. Both of us were shy and nerdy, but we didn’t connect on that basis back then, like the nerds in today’s trendy movies do. We were, at that time, terminally shy and nerdy.
Forty-plus years have passed, and Joy and I re-connected (actually connected for the first time) on Facebook a few years ago. We’re friends now.
Joy’s husband is a pastor. Joy is a pastor’s wife. Joy and Bill have had some prodigal children. I have had some prodigal children. Joy and I have talked a little about our prodigal children, and a lot about the usual Facebook stuff: We “like” each other’s photos and witty sayings. We promise to pray sometimes about this or that.
Joy doesn’t live in our home-state of Michigan any more. Her parents still live here. Two years ago, Joy and her husband came up to visit her parents; and Mike and I spent an afternoon with Joy and Bill at the John Ball Zoo, here in our home town.
Joy’s husband had, at that time, recently self-published a non-fiction book. He gave us a copy. I tried to read it through, and so did Michael. It is on a shelf somewhere. Sad to say, I do not even remember what it was about …
Joy and Bill came back to Michigan this week. I met them for lunch today, and we had a delightful one-hour visit. Two of their daughters married last summer. My youngest son is marrying this coming Saturday.
Bill has self-published another book. He gave me a copy.
I read his book tonight. I am reading it through for the second time! This book needs to be professionally published, and promoted. It is a very short novel; Bill calls it a parable; it weaves a tale of multiple generations, giving timeless insights and hope for families. OMG! It imagines, quite realistically, the rest of the story of the Prodigal Son: forty years, and two more generations. You have got to read this book! It’s an easy read, and will break your heart, then put it back together again. The story feels like a mirror. You will see yourself, your friends, your parents, your children, and God in this tale.
Proofreading errors abound. (Joy, what were you thinking? I hope Bill didn’t pay for too many copies of the first edition!) I am marking my copy the second time through with proofreader’s marks, and wishing I actually remembered all the marks that proofreaders use. I worked as a professional proofreader in 1970, but that was a long time ago.
My cousin, Julie, is an editor for a major Christian publisher. I am going to do whatever it takes to persuade Julie to read Bill’s book. Heck, I think I’ll even offer to pay her to read it if need be.
As soon as I had read the final page tonight, at 9 p.m., I made an impulse phone call to Julie’s cell, but got her voice mail. I am not particularly eloquent on voice mail. I simply asked her to call me.
Then I started re-reading, and proofreading. Then I thought maybe I ought to call it a night and head for bed. Then I got the bright idea that I should write this blog.
If I post my blog link to Facebook, only two of my Facebook friends will follow the link and actually read this blog. One of them is Joy. The other one is Julie.
Julie! You pumped me with questions and used my stories for your Sunday School class … Can I call in the favor? Will you read my girlfriend’s husband’s vanity-press novel? It only took me 2 hours to read it, and I didn’t want to put it down. Oh! and Bill doesn’t even double-space between sentences like I do. (Pet-peeve of Julie’s) Bill does, however, let “spell-check” autocorrect for him. Bah! (But we can fix that!) You’ve got my cell number. Give me a call, please! This is probably the busiest week of my life so far … but I’m taking the time to try to pique your interest because I’m convinced this book will appeal to a very broad audience. It speaks to a need I am constantly asked to pray about in every life and family I know.
How can you get to the “happily ever-after” in the too-true story of the Prodigal Son?