My heart aches for you. I can see you standing there, eyes tear-blurred and weary straining down the broken road you watched your child stumble down until they were out of sight.
Another day sinks away and you barely breathe the pain-filled question to the Only Son in all this pressing darkness.
When will my child come home?
I can not answer that question for you. But, as a former prodigal daughter who trudged the long road home intending to crawl back to try to survive as a servant --and instead was made a co-heir with Christ himself--may I offer some words of encouragement?
I wanted to write this because I know the situation looks, and feels, hopeless. It's not. There is Hope. I know Him. He is the One that gave me hope and a future. He is the very same God who is pursuing your child. There is Hope.
Though I don't know the specific route your child has taken, or what heart-wrenching turns have taken them out of sight, I would like to share a little of my journey because the path your child is on and the one I took nine years ago are similar in this way: they both lead away from home. From Him.
Where I went:
To more and more isolated places in my spirit, mind, heart, and eventually, physical location. I was wounded. By others. By my own actions. And, I felt, by God. This woundedness festered into fear. One of the chief fears was, ironically, of being alone.
Loneliness aches in the deepest places and feels all wrong. Because it is. We were not created to be lonely, but secure in the faithful love of Him who designed us for happily ever after. I was also afraid of stillness, unfilled time, quiet. I did not want to process the rush of issues that attacked me in down time. That is probably why so much of my sin was sought out and acted on in the isolating, eerie quiet of normal sleeping hours.
My woundedness and fears manifested themselves in a slew of ways including: lying, selfishness, anger, misuse of money, self abuse through cutting and food deprivation, drinking, drugs, promiscuity, an abortion, and suicide attempts.
What brought me back home?:
Love is the only motivator I know that is more powerful than fear.
It was God's relentless loving kindness expressed towards me--mainly through my parents--that lead me to repentance. A true place of turning, of change.
What you can do(certainly not a complete list, just four humble suggestions):
Pray. Pray. Pray!
Then pray more.
He hears you. He is close to you and your child with your crushed spirits and broken hearts.
Pray for their correction. Pray for their direction. And please, pray for their protection.
They are in way over their head. I cannot tell you how many dangerous doors I tried to walk through that were inexplicably slammed in my face. As an attractive, isolated young woman with lots of money(I was making $1,500 a day as a model), who was actively looking for trouble... I should have been able to find a whole lot more than I did. Trust me, there is no other explanation than God.
And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, God was answering my parents continual prayers. As disconnected as I was with God I knew He was opposed to my actions and for all my fiercest efforts He shut me down repeatedly with "this far, and no farther."
I am so grateful.
Through my parents prayers God even told my mother specifically at one point that I was pregnant and considering an abortion. I hadn't told anyone but my best friend. I didn't live at home. I didn't let them in on anything that was going on in my life. But God did. And that is another story you can read a little about here. But I pray this encourages you that The LORD really does confide in those who fear Him. Pray.
Love them by helping, as you have opportunity, to expose the lies they are believing, acting on, feeling as truth. You can do this by focusing on the root cause of the sin--their departure from their relationship with God--rather than on the symptoms of the sin you are seeing in their actions.
Yes, actions/symptoms have to be addressed to varying extents, but you will help them so much by keeping such complicated issues simple. If your loved one is being self-destructive try to help them realize that their choices are growing from roots of loneliness, fear, lack of direction, purpose and passion, woundedness, confused thinking, deception, and pride.
These things must be ripped out at their roots for the symptoms to stop cropping up in different areas. Only Christ can do this. Keep directing them back to Him. Only He can answer the deepest questions and fears of the heart as each one needs to hear.
And regardless of how assertive they are about what they "know" about truth, what is right, the reality of God(as I was), it is only a cognitive knowing--not an experiential knowing. And knowing by experience that the LORD is God Most High is the beginning of the fear of the LORD, which is the very beginning of wisdom and knowledge. They are confused in their thoughts and emotions, regardless of what they profess. So address symptoms as needed but keep directing them back to the truth that the root problem is their need and desire for intimate relationship God.
3.) Be Aware.
Christ is probably working on you, too. Are there certain issues about your own relationship with Him that He is bringing into the light through all this darkness? Could there be sin in your own life that you need to repent of? Are there wounds and fears you've never gone to The Great Physician for? Are you questioning if you really trust your beloved child in the hands of the Father? Are you still able to trust in His goodness and His plan for you and them? You are being held in the fire. Remember that the longer we are held in the fire the more dross comes out, and then, then, out comes the glorious material for the Silversmith.
Remember that you also need to stay focused on the truth about who Jesus is. This is the only thing that keeps any of us from sinking in the relentless waves. Set the example of faith in the trusting the Father with your child.
Remember they are not alone. Christ is the faithful Shepherd who seeks the wandering, lost lamb. Even if they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with them. Even if they make their bed in the depths, they cannot flee from His presence.
Remember He raises the dead. Don't be surprised at their lack of feeling and morality, their emotional and spiritual deadness. Being separated from Christ is to be disconnected from Life. There is no real life apart from Christ. I speak as one who literally invited--paid for--death to enter my body physically and spiritually when I had an abortion and killed my child. I walked away from that choice dead. But... He has called me out of death, and into life! He made me new. Alive with Christ.
None of the present things they are doing, nor anything that is to come, can separate them from the powerful, healing, redeeming love of Jesus. Not even death.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
"Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith"
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."
~1 Timothy 1:15-17