Monday, September 22, 2008

Bringing Home the Prodigals: A Book Review

Parental love is such a deep, and strong love. We would do anything for our kids. I am not to the point where my kids are venturing out on their own, but I was in that point in my life where I left home. Some kids don't come back home, for whatever reason, and the parents worry over them and wish they would return. Bringing Home the Prodigals is a book about children leaving home, sometimes physically and sometimes emotionally. Children make choices and sometimes those choices are not what parents would choose for their children.
And yet as much as we love them, as much as we want their good, as much as we would give all that we possess for their sakes, we cannot live their lives for them. Our children make choices. And sometimes those choices are bad ones.
We are their parents; we have spent all our lives making things right for them, but at times even we have to step back a little and let them learn the lessons of life. Sometimes the pain is part of the coming home. But that does not stop us feeling that somehow we are responsible. The parable of the prodigal son is the third story of a trilogy. In the first there is a lost sheep, and in the second a lost coin. It would be hard to blame the sheep (and certainly the coin!) for getting lost, but this story is different. Here the boy is capable of making a decision and does so—to turn his back on the father and the father’s house. He, himself, chooses. And yet in spite of the fact that our children make their own choices, we so often feel the guilt ourselves.
Sometimes the church itself makes the "prodigal" feel terrible, and makes things worse. Sometimes other families can make it seem as though their children and family make good choices all the time, and never turn their backs. So in that case, parents of the "prodigals" feel like they went wrong somewhere, or feel inadequate as parents.
And as if parenting wasn’t hard enough anyway, modern society practically forces us to see our children’s lives as a judgment on whether or not we have been successful. We want our children to do well because we want to be well-thought-of ourselves. So often, when our children go through tough times—whether it’s unexpectedly poor grades or some much more serious issue—our first thought is, “What will people think of us?”
He (Rob Parsons) urges us to be released from false guilt, to stop judging each other, and to remember that God, the perfect parent, has trouble with his children, too. He challenges the church to recognize the part it has played in creating prodigals and says, When our prodigals do come home, pray that they meet the father first and not the elder brother! But this is not just for other people. We suddenly see that the dirty, tear stained face coming down the road is our face. And then we discover what, deep in our heart, we knew all along we are the prodigal.

Rob is a best-selling author of ten books. He is a lawyer by profession, has subsequently become a well known author and speaker on family issues. Drawing from his own experiences of family life, and often joined by his wife Dianne, he has addressed over 500,000 people in face to face events. In 1988, Rob launched Care for the Family, a registered charity motivated by Christian compassion. The resources and support offered are available to everyone, of any faith or none.
Bringing Home the Prodigals by Rob Parsons
Authentic Publishing/April 2008
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