Your prodigal has not taken God by surprise.

Persevering in Extravagant Love for Your Prodigal

The story came tumbling out from the heart of a friend at a church picnic. Eyes welling with tears, she shared her story of waiting in the road for her prodigal to return–and she was still waiting. The journey had been long and painful, and she knew well the ache of worry over addiction, the anger mixed with regret, and the heartache of never knowing where (or how!) her child was living. Parents of prodigals walk a hard road. When your child is home, their choices drive you crazy; when they’re out of sight, they’re never out of mind, because the phone could ring with bad news at any moment.

Judy Douglass has walked this same path while also living the fishbowl life of a ministry wife with Cru Global. As she waited in the wilderness of her son Josh’s rebellious years, she relied on God’s love for her boy to carry her over the roughest parts of the journey. When You Love a Prodigal: 90 Days of Grace for the Wilderness is the fruit of hours on her knees in prayer and years spent close to words of Truth, clinging to the promises of God for her wayward son.

Douglass refers to the prodigal wilderness journey as “one of the most transforming aspects of [her] life,” and her collection of ninety devotionals reads like a coming alongside, like an arm around the shoulders and a level gaze that says, “Yes, I know. I know,” to those who still wait in hope. Dipping her pen in the well of God’s sovereignty, she shares hope from prophetic words:

My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure.
(Isaiah 46:10 NASB)

Then, sharing the words of the psalmist, she offers hope for redemption and a life beyond destructive patterns, a renewal ushered in by the God who “redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” (Psalm 103:4)

Finding the Way to a Prodigal Love

Prodigal children do not take God by surprise, and our own imperfect responses are not outside God’s ability to forgive and to fold into the process of redemption. And as parents receive forgiveness for their own repeated sins, grace can overflow to the child who has wronged them, betrayed them, offended them, and wounded them repeatedly.

Studying the names of God enabled Judy to call upon him in very specific ways to meet the need of the moment. When she felt unseen and unheard because answers did not come, she called out to El Roi, the God who sees. When her prodigal was far from home and likely in trouble, she held onto the tender shepherding heart of Jehovah Rohi. Jehovah Shalom was her peace throughout more than a dozen years of waiting and trusting that God would rescue her son from himself.

The word prodigal came into use meaning”extravagant, lavish, abundant, and bountiful.” It has fallen on hard times in our day meaning “a person who is extravagantly wasteful, lavishly reckless, abundantly profligate.” The loving parent of a prodigal can weave a new, whole garment from these rags of terminology, and become, by grace, “one who extravagantly and lavishly, with perseverance, loves a prodigal.”

Thanks be to God for his prodigal love.

Many thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Grace and Peace,

Michele Morin

Photo by Jarrod Reed on Unsplash

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase When You Love a Prodigal: 90 Days of Grace for the Wilderness, simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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53 thoughts on “Persevering in Extravagant Love for Your Prodigal”

  1. Michele,
    This is a book I need to get my hands on! I know the mother of a prodigal journey all too well! Sometimes we need to know we are not alone and receive encouragement that God is always at work behind the scenes in our child’s heart. Our job is to keep praying and keep loving and calling on the answer (Jesus) to all our needs. Thank you.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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  2. ‘And as parents receive forgiveness for their own repeated sins, grace can overflow to the child who has wronged them, betrayed them, offended them, and wounded them repeatedly.’

    Wow, this looks to be a significant encouragement for those who are grieving the loss of children who are still alive and yet have chosen to remove themselves from the family circle.

    I’m off to share your post, Michele. This book’s an important one.

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  3. My husband and I are still in the process of reunification with our son. He was away for 5yrs. I can’t imagine 12. Even in just the 5yrs there has been so much change in his life and ours too. We are getting to know a full grown man instead of the teenager he used to be. Books on this topic are very much needed. Thank you for your review, Michele. #soaringwithhim

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  4. Michele, this sounds like a book to encourage and sustain broken-hearted parents as they wait and pray. I’ve witnessed the broken hearts of some of my friends and their pure joy when reunion and restoration with their child happened.

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  5. I know any parent can have a prodigal, regardless of how they raised their children, so this resource will be valuable to many! Thanks for being a curator of resources for us, Michele.

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    1. I can recall exactly how I felt when this sad fact occurred to me VERY early in our parenting life. It was chilling, and yet I’m thankful, because I know it impacted the way I parented.

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  6. What a great resource. No on can come alongside and minister like one who has been there. One of my own is not exactly a prodigal, but is not exactly where he should be with the Lord, and I cling to Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

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  7. Wow. This book looks like a lifeline of hope for people waiting on a prodigal to return. I love how encouraging it is for that tender wilderness season.

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    1. It’s true we all spend time in some wilderness or other–which gives us plenty of insight and compassion for those who may be suffering in ways that are different from us–and yet so painful.

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  8. This will be such wonderful encouragement for many. Your review is wonderful and I am waiting for my copy to arrive for review and I know I will be sharing the book with several others.

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  9. What an inspiring idea to study the names of God and use them to call upon him in very specific ways to meet the need of the moment. Must do that as I pray for prodigal loved ones also. Thank you, Michele!

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  10. What a great resource to many who parent, or try to parent, a prodigal. I agree with Rebecca’s comment that we all either know a prodigal or have been one. Thanks for linking this up today.

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  11. Michele, I wish this book had been around when my parents were praying for the return of their prodigal. God restored their relationships and my sibling came back to the faith eventually, but I have a feeling my mom would have counted the 12-year experience as a transformational one as well. “When You Love a Prodigal” sounds like a beautiful, important book.

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  12. I have a friend whose daughter is an addict. It kills him and his wife every time she leaves rehab and returns to addictive life, it’s like she dies all over again–ripping their hearts open in deeper and more profound ways. So this book sounds like an incredible resource for them, Michele! Thank you for sharing! I’ll be sure to share your post with them! Pinning this for sure!

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  13. This sounds like such a wonderful book that I’m sure would encourage many. I myself am the mother of a prodigal. I love how she used the names of God to call out to in specific prayer.

    “The word prodigal came into use meaning”extravagant, lavish, abundant, and bountiful.” It has fallen on hard times in our day meaning “a person who is extravagantly wasteful, lavishly reckless, abundantly profligate.” The loving parent of a prodigal can weave a new, whole garment from these rags of terminology, and become, by grace, “one who extravagantly and lavishly, with perseverance, loves a prodigal.”” I did not know this! My favorite take away from this post is the final sentence of this quote.

    Thank you so much for sharing. You have encouraged my heart with this review.

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    1. I had no idea, Karen, that this was part of your story. My heart aches for you, and I’m so grateful that you found a bit of encouragement here for managing the weight of this sadness. Praying right this minute for your prodigal.

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  14. Michele – This sounds like a fantastic book. In my ministry, I come in contact with many people who have a prodigal. I will add this to my reading list. Thank you for sharing with Grace & Truth. I am going to feature you this Friday. Maree

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  15. There is something about your blog that has a magical quality or perhaps just that God really does move in mysterious ways. I nearly always read your posts when something is troubling me, today that my 18 year old son who lives overseas is rarely in touch and that hurts me. He is now a student with new contacts and a new life but I am still his mum and find it hard to be abandoned. Your post made me at least try to trust in the process and to thank God that my son is a good boy who behaves well, has a good heart and has no addiction issues whatsoever. Thank you for writing this post #TwinklyTuesday

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    1. He does move in mysterious ways, and I have also experienced the miracle of the “right words at the right time.”
      It’s always deeply encouraging to me to learn that someone has visited this little corner of the internet and found something that clarifies their thinking or lifts their hearts toward God in some small way.
      Grateful alongside you that your son is not in trouble, but praying right now for a heart connection with him that will encourage you BOTH!

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  16. Michele, I haven’t walked the prodigal road, but from what I have seen with those who have, it’s painful, humbling, and hard. This devotional sounds like a comforting read for those in that wilderness. I love how Judy Douglass learned to call on the different names of God in prayer. Thank you for sharing this!

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  17. I can’t imagine being estranged from my children. But it is natural that they exhibit prodigal behaviour as they get older and try to find their own path in life. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

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  18. I can’t imagine not knowing where my children were or not being part of their lives. It must be an impossible situation and I am sure that this book will help others in that situation. #DreamTeam

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