The Mark of Repentance

This is an excerpt from a sermon by Ray Stedman called When Discipline Ends . I thought this an excellent description of what true repentance is… He is writing about a situation in Corinth…  2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (Emphasis is mine…)

In this case in Corinth, the majority of the congregation had been involved in trying to reach the individual referred to here. But the point, of course, is that it had already happened; it had already worked; this man had repented. He had admitted that what he did was wrong; and that is what repentance is. It is coming to a conclusion about yourself that what you have done is hurtful and wrong. This man had reached that place and had demonstrated it by what I like to call, “the mark of repentance.” It is mentioned here in Verse 7. Paul urges them to comfort him that he may not be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”

The sign that you really see that what you did was wrong is that you begin to see the hurt that you have caused by it; and it creates a sense of sorrow, of remorse that you have been the instrument by which many have been damaged in their faith or in their feelings. Therefore, the mark of true repentance is sorrow. I know that we are being taught oftentimes today that if you do something wrong, all you have to do is go and say to somebody, “Yes, I did that,” then you instantly demand, in a sense, forgiveness. Well, it is true that the other person should forgive right away, but the mark that shows him that you are really repentant is that, accompanying that admission of guilt, is a sense of sorrow because of the hurt that has been caused. This is a quite different spirit than what we see at times today where people get angry if they are not forgiven instantly.

The mark of genuine repentance is that you do not really believe anybody ought to forgive you, that what you have done is hurtful, and you do not think you deserve forgiveness. Therefore, forgiveness is something that is always freely extended to someone who does not feel that he deserves it; and that is what is clear here. You can see this, by the way, if you look ahead to Chapter 7, where Paul refers to this very incident again, and the congregation’s treatment of it. In Verse 8 of that chapter he says:

For even if I made you sorry with my letter I do not regret it (though I did regret it), for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10 RSV)

So the mark of repentance is grief and sorrow over what is done. This man had come to that point, therefore, it was time to end the discipline. Of course, the purpose of the whole process of discipline at any stage is to bring somebody to recovery. The minute he achieves that, it is time to end all the sanctions and degrees of pressure that are being put on, and to begin to extend forgiveness and restoring love. That is what Paul pleads for in Verse 8:

So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Corinthians 2:8 RSV)

Any form of correction is never to proceed from anger alone, but from love, and, therefore, the appropriate action is to reaffirm love. Paul suggests how that should be done when he says, “you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him lest he be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” Now, because this man had reached this place, Paul goes on to give us a statement of what restoration involves. Verse 9:

For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:9-11 RSV)

There are three things of great importance in that paragraph which help us to understand how you bring people to restoration: The first one, as Paul clearly indicates, is to begin with a faithful confrontation. He says, “I wrote to you to see if you would obey” — not obey Paul so much as obey the Lord. It was not the apostle giving orders, it was his calling attention to what the Lord had said. Their obedience, therefore, was not to him, but to the Lord. And it always is. No man has the right to give orders in the church, but only to call attention, as a brother, to the orders the Lord has already given. The Corinthians had obeyed; they had done what Matthew 18 required by telling it to the church. That is always a very painful, difficult thing to do.

One of the reasons so many churches are rife with splits, divisions, and problems today is because their leadership seems to be made up of gutless wonders who have no moral courage and who are not willing to act themselves in obedience to what the Scripture says. In the instances in the past when this church has had to take action of this sort, we have actually received threats, threats of lawsuits, of bodily harm, against the eldership if they acted. We have had to resist reproof by many people in the congregation, and around, who misjudged and did not understand the situation, who thought it was wrong to act the way we did. So it has taken courage to stand, sometimes, and obey the Word of God. But as Scripture says, “the effect of righteousness will be peace,” (Isaiah 32:17). If you will act rightly, in love, and frontally, with courage, the result ultimately is peace; and this is what was happening here in Corinth. The place to start, therefore, is with a faithful confrontation.

This is true also of individual difficulties. If you have a difficulty with somebody, do what the Lord says: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” (Matthew 18:15a RSV). That is always the basis for working out peace in a relationship. But equally important is the readiness to forgive when there is an indication that he has acknowledged that what he did was wrong, or see the hurt that it caused, and there is grief and sorrow because of it. Then we are to instantly restore such a one.

Here again, the church often offends. I know that one of the frequent causes for hurt and damage to individuals in the church at large today has been unwillingness to forgive things in the past that an individual has cleared up long ago, but they are still being held over his or her head: Take divorce, for instance. I have been in many places where people have gone through a divorce, sometimes on the basis of the biblical reasons for it, but that has been treated as though it was the unforgivable sin. Those involved never could come back to any level of acceptance or leadership because of that. For some reason divorce is made much worse than murder or adultery or anything else. But that is wrong, and great damage is done because of that. If it is true in this situation that Paul himself had personally been insulted by the individual in question, notice how freely he extends forgiveness (Verse 10):

Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, (2 Corinthians 2:10 RSV)

There are no hard feelings expressed, no recriminations, no “well, I-can-forgive, but-I-can’t-forget” attitude. You often hear that, don’t you? That reveals a lack of understanding of what forgiveness is. Forgiveness, basically, is a promise that you make; it is a promise you make to three different individuals. This is true always, in every case of forgiveness:

First, it is a promise that you make to the individual who has offended you and now has repented, in which you are saying to him or her, “I will not let my attitude toward you be governed any longer by this offense. It has been put aside. My treatment of you from here on will be as though this had never happened.” It is a promise you make never to bring it up again. In marriage many problems go on for years and years because we tend to go back and dig up all the past, which is an indication that it has never been forgiven. Some mates don’t get hysterical, they get historical! That is the problem, and that creates a problem.

Second, it is a promise not to pass it on to anybody else. When a matter is forgiven it is to be forgotten. Now it may be that everyone knows it, because, as in this case in Corinth, it had been told to the whole church. But what it means is that nobody throws it at him again, or holds it over his head, or reminds him of it every time any further difficulty occurs. It is a promise to drop the matter, leave it in the past, and never bring it up to anybody again.

Third, and probably most important of all, it is a promise to yourself that, when your memory goes back to it, as it will occasionally, you are not going to allow it to seize hold of your heart and make you angry all over again. The minute it comes back to mind, you put it aside as something that belongs to the past, you are not going to dwell on it. It is a promise, therefore, to repeat your act of forgiveness, no matter how often the memory comes up. That is what forgiveness is; and Paul is so ready to do this.

The reason, of course, is because he himself had been forgiven. People tell me sometimes, “Well, I just can’t forgive in this case. The person said it was wrong, and has asked me to forgive him, but I just can’t do it. It hurt me too much.” Well, that is a revelation to me that that person has never realized how much he has been forgiven already. The basis for Christian forgiveness is always, “Forgive, because you have been forgiven.” If you cannot forgive it is because you have forgotten that you were forgiven. Paul says this to the Ephesians:

…be tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 KJV)

That means we are not to be self-righteous and condemning, and assume the attitude, “Well, I could never do a thing like that.” In the eyes of God you have already done worse, and been forgiven for it. That is the basis, therefore, for extending forgiveness to others: “Freely you have received, freely give,” (Matthew 10:8 KJV).

The third element here, brought out in Verse 11, is the need to keep Satan from gaining an advantage over us, for Paul says, “we are not ignorant of his designs.” It is Satan who keeps bringing back to your mind the hurts of the past; he keeps interjecting them back into a situation. He is trying to get hold of you through the situation and wreak havoc with you and your loved ones by taking advantage of it. It is Satan who makes the leadership of a church quail at confronting some situation, makes them say, “Oh, let’s not get involved; let’s forget it.” That is Satan. He is seeking to gain an advantage over that whole congregation so he can dilute their testimony and render them powerless in their effect upon the community.

We were discussing a situation just this last week, and one of our pastors said, quite understandably, “Let’s get hold of that situation and do something about it so it will never come up again.” I knew how he felt, but you cannot always do that, because there is an enemy who will bring it up again, whether you like it or not; he will interject the same situation into circumstances in the future and you will have to fight the same battle over and over again.

That is what Paul means when he says, “we are not ignorant of his designs.” When an arsonist is loose, you can expect fires; they are going to break out all over the place. We have an enemy who is like that, and when you have an enemy you can expect casualties. When you are engaged in warfare, you never can decide on your own terms that you are not going to have any more casualties, because the enemy is there; he is the one who keeps it going.

We often say in American history, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” That is true in the spiritual realm as well. It is only as we are aware that we are in a battle, and an enemy is constantly trying to take advantage of the situation, that we must realize that the thing that defeats him is to extend ready and full forgiveness when there are broken relationships within us. That is what keeps Satan from gaining an advantage over you.

Paul said that in Ephesians: “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” Ephesians 4:26-27). Settle this matter before nightfall, before you go to bed. Don’t carry it over to the next day and thus give opportunity to the devil. When you let it go on and on and on, unresolved, you are giving the devil an opportunity to get hold of everybody involved, to create more problems and spread it widely and turn the whole church upside down eventually. Therefore, one of the elements that restoration always involves is that spiritual awareness that we are in a battle, that we live in a crazy world under the control of a madman, basically, so we cannot expect to settle it all once and for all.

As an old movie once described it, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. — I saw that title in Spanish on a marquee down in Latin America: Todo El Mundo es Loco, Loco, Loco, Loco!

We are to deal with these problems then in our own hearts. That is the way you turn off the attack of the enemy. Some years ago I read about a mental hospital that had devised a very effective test to know whether the patients were ready to go back into life again. The patients would be brought into a room where a water tap was flowing out on the floor and handed a mop and told to mop up the water. If they took the mop and just started mopping away, with the water still flowing, they would be put back in the hospital. But if they had the sense to go and turn off the tap first, and then mop up the water, they knew they were ready to go back into life.

There is no sense in trying to clear up a situation until we have turned off the devil’s tap by forgiving that which has been acknowledged as wrong. If we persist in bringing it up, over and over again, we are trying to mop up a situation where the water is still flowing. That is foolish; it cannot be done. That is why in many marriages, in many family relationships, and in a church, these kinds of hurtful things go on and on and on for decades. Nobody has turned off the tap; nobody has forgiven one another and let it rest in the past, realizing that we all are in need of forgiveness continually. When forgiveness happens, then marvelous healing begins to take place.

I could tell you story after story of how I have seen this happen. Whole congregations have been restored, whole family groups have been opened up by two people who were mad at one another deciding that they would forgive; and when there was any degree of acknowledgment at all that there was injury done, extending forgiveness.

Is there any more beautiful picture in all the Scriptures than the story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son? The story of the old father waiting at home, watching the horizon and knowing that, when that boy had reached the end and was ready to admit his wrongdoing, he would show up at the house again? At the first glimpse of his son on the horizon, the old man is running down the road to meet him, his arms wide open. Before the boy can utter a syllable of his memorized statement that he has been repeating to himself all the way home — “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:19 RSV) — the old man has his arms around him and he is calling out for a celebration, to kill the fatted calf. (I remember the little story of the Sunday School boy when the class was asked, “Who was sorry when the Prodigal Son came home?” The expected answer was, “The elder brother,” but one little boy said, “The fatted calf!”) Well, there was one who was not sorry, and that was the father. He was overjoyed, because he knew that his son would never have been back if he had not acknowledged that he was wrong. And he did not wait for the boy to say that. He had already forgiven him. The very appearance of the lad on the horizon was enough to tell the father that his son was home again, sorry for what he had done. And, “lest he be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow,” the father forgave him from a full and free heart. Now that is God’s picture of what he does with us.


We find all these marks of repentance in the story of the prodigal son…

He had admitted that what he did was wrong.

The mark of true repentance is sorrow.

The mark of genuine repentance is that you do not really believe anybody ought to forgive you, that what you have done is hurtful, and you do not think you deserve forgiveness.

Painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo 1660



Words of Life

This is a wonderful video…


From his studio nestled along the Arkansas River in Colorado, potter Dave Blakeslee says, “One of the things I love about God is that He is a creative God.” Watch and listen as he shapes, glazes, and fires ceramic works of art and describes how the Master Potter forms and transforms lives. Discover how God can mold you into a beautiful vessel uniquely designed for His glory in the Day of Discovery video presentation “The Potter.”

You can watch it at this link…


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How God Persues Prodigals ~ Ray Pritchard

This is a very interesting take on the prodigal…Can we help our prodigals too soon?

Ray Pritchard writes, “Sometimes in our attempt to reach out to the prodigals we know, we can intervene too soon. Do you remember what happened to the prodigal son in Luke 15? After he had wasted all his inheritance in wild living, he ended up feeding the pigs (Luke 15:15-16). As Eugene Peterson puts it, “He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.” If you saw that, you might think, “That young man is ready for a new life.” Maybe so, maybe not.
Sometimes in our attempt to reach out to the prodigals we know, we can intervene too soon.

In the story Jesus told, the father waited for his son to return and then ran to meet him when he was still far from home. What if the father in the story had gone after his son and tried to bring him back even one day early? The son would have said, “If only you had left me alone for one more day, I would have made all my money back because I was investing in pork bellies.”

So it goes. We may think that someone has hit rock bottom when they are still scheming a way out of their problems. It was not until the son “came to his senses” that he decided to return home. That has to happen to every prodigal son and daughter, and it cannot be predicted or forced.

Repentance is first of all a work of God in the human heart. If you come a day too soon, the prodigal will always think, “With one more day, I would have figured out a way to solve my own problems.” As long as the scheming and lying and deceiving continues, the best thing we can do is to pray for God’s Spirit to bring them to their senses and to wait patiently until that day comes.”

I know you will be greatly encouraged reading Part 1 and Part 2 of this sermon by Ray Pritchard on his website  Keep Believing. 

Toward the end of  his sermon Ray gives these  comforting words…

God knows where they are.
God knows what they are doing.
God knows how to reach them.
God knows how to bring them back.

Between now and then, never give up.

Never give up.
Keep believing.
Keep on praying.

Featured Blog ~ Families, Prodigals and Turkeys by Martina Mcgowen

I came across Martina Mcgowen’s blog the other day when looking for something to encourage parents during the holidays. I know this is a very hard time for families dealing with prodigals, but really it can be very hard just dealing with family. I chuckled when I read Martina’s take on it…

“Families and holidays. I often think, “Could the Lord have made a worse combination?” Now, I don’t know about your family, but mine doesn’t always have it all together, but that makes them interesting, usually fun and sometimes downright bizarre.

Most of us worry that our families are a bit dysfunctional. Well, I’ve got news for you- they all are to some degree. Yours, mine, the girl with the perfect hair in High School, that lovely family down the street. All our families have some-thing or some-one that doesn’t seem quite “right.”

Martina is sharing a series called Families, Prodigals and Turkeys. She uses beautiful paintings to embellish her post on the prodigal story. Her series is concentrating not so much on the prodigal, but his brother. Something, as parents, that we need not to forget. The siblings that are still at home need our love and attention.Their hearts may not be quite right and when our focus is mainly on our prodigal, we may not see it.

Featuring Martina Mcgowen …Families, Prodigals and Turkeys

Thank you, Martina, for this wonderful series.

31 Days ~ Going the Extra Mile

 Day 20 ~ Going the Extra MileAnd whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Matthew 5:41It isn’t all a bed of roses when a prodigal returns.

In the parable the father is delighted and rejoicing, but the brother obviously has some problems with the attention that is bestowed on the wayward son.

There, of course, are many lessons in this parable for us to learn…

The prodigal, even though repentant, will bring back the consequences of his behavior.

The wasted years will show themselves evident in his life, as if he has to start again at square one. If he has a gift, it may be that gift was taken away from him and he has to settle with less.

He may bring back a wife who was with him in his rebellion and consequently does not have the same values as you.

Regardless what it is we are compelled to go the extra mile. We can open our arms with forgiveness and rejoice in the return, yet there will be rough spots in the road, and our love must be as Christ’s love for us…full of forgiveness and compassion.

All of it…this whole prodigal journey…is so like what our Father deals with in each one of us…what Jesus died for in each one of us.

Can we not go the extra mile, as He does with us?

James Banks ~ “This isn’t an easy road, but I accept it gratefully knowing that I’m following You.

I know by faith that this road comes out in a better place for him and for me if I keep my eyes on You.

I pray that I will continue in “faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel“. (Colossians 1:23)

Because love always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

You are not only watching You are with me.

When I “pass through the waters” of difficult days, You have promised, “I will be with you.”

When I pass “through the rivers” – those days when we’re in over our heads – you have said, “they will not sweep over” us.

Even when I “walk through the fire” of trial or temptation or anger, “I will not be burned if I stay close to You (Isaiah 43:2)”

Help us stay close to You, to keep our eyes on You, to be like You… to seek You early, to draw near to You, to acknowledge You in all our ways, so that our paths will be directed by You. Help us, Father, to go the extra mile, not just what is expected of us, but what may be out of our comfort zone.

Praying today that each one of You will know that you are not alone on this journey. This particular trial is set before you for a reason. It is the cup that the Father has given you to partake of, but Jesus will never leave you, or forsake you. Keep your eyes on Him and you will not sink no matter how violent the storm. He is with you forever and for always.

31 Days ~ Let Every Road Lead to You, Lord

Day 12 ~ Let Every Road Lead to You, Lord

Surely the arm of the Lord is not to short to save, nor his ear to dull to hear.” Isaiah 59:1

“Father, I thank you there is no where my son can go where you are not already present.

Even though, he is far from me, I rest in your promise that your arm “is not too short to save.”
I pray that you will meet him where he is, Lord.
Let him encounter you everywhere he turns “behind and before” (Psalms 139:5)
Open his eyes to “paths of life that lead in your direction and draw him close to you (Acts 2:28).
Not home to me, but to his eternal home with you.
Just like the prodigal son who “came to his senses” in a far country, I ask that he will become aware of anything that separates him from you.
Let every road he takes lead to You, Lord.” ~ James Banks
Praying this very thing for your loved ones today…

31 Days ~ Be On Guard

Day 6 ~ Be On Guard

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life,” Luke 21:34

I looked at several versions of this scripture, and this particular one that James Banks uses says “Be careful“. The KJV says “Take heed” and the NASV says “Be on guard“, which I like the more forceful implication of being on guard, because we really do need to take heed to these words that Jesus spoke and Be on guard…all of us do.

The first thing we tend to think of is drunkenness, waywardness, definitely this is one that consumes many prodigals. It’s now termed substance abuse and applies to overuse of drugs, alcohol, tobacco. But honestly, I think it can apply to over the counter drugs and prescription drugs, not to say that some of these are needed at times, but I think we have become a people way too entirely dependent on drugs.

Dissipation means intemperate living. That totally describes the prodigal son in the Bible who wastes away his inheritance on useless vanity. It also means wasteful expenditure…Again we need to be on guard that we are not consumed by extravagant expenditures. These scriptures speak to everyone…

And the third “anxieties of life”…I would love to know what you are thinking right now. Are we not supposed to “Cast our cares (anxieties) on Him, for he cares for us.” 1 Peter 5:7

We are just as guilty as those that are drunken, if we are not on guard, not taking heed to cast our anxieties on Jesus. He does not want us to be anxious about anything…Philippians 4:6

So, today I’m praying that we will take a serious look at ourselves and if we are anxious, not just over-anxious, but anxious about anything that we will put our guard up, put the armor on, put on Christ and believe and have faith and cast all our cares on Him, just as we are commanded to do.

And for our prodigals…

“Call them out, Lord! Out of darkness, out of dissipation, out of any substance or drug abuse and out of relationships that contribute to these things.

Set them free, Father!

I know that they have to want to be free. So I ask you to open their eyes to see the consequences of their actions, and let them long for something more.

Let them “hunger and thirst for righteousness” and then they “will be filled” and blessed! Matthew 5:6″ ~ James Banks

Prodigal Son’s Prayer

Painting byLiz Lemon Swindle

Prodigal Son’s Prayer – How can I help my wayward child?

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (John 15-11-24).
Prodigal Son’s Prayer – When The Story Becomes Personal
If you are a parent dealing with a wayward or prodigal child, you may be asking how to pray for him or her. As parents, we grieve over choices our children make. There is great power in a praying parent! And God draws near to the brokenhearted:
Lamentations 2:19 says, “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children. . .”
You may be a parent who is “pouring out your heart like water” in God’s presence. Praying. Pleading. Begging for God’s infinite mercy to fall on your child at this very moment.
You may have a child who is using drugs or suffering from alcoholism. You may have one who is in prison or juvenile detention. Or you may have a son or daughter who is consistently making wrong choices.
Whatever the need, take heart that your Lord and Savior already knows all about it. He hears your heartfelt cry to Him. He wants to mend that broken heart of yours.
When you “pour out your heart like water,” you may feel empty. Emotionally spent. Drained. Psalm 22:14 says, “I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax, it has melted away within me.”
It’s at that moment that you don’t feel you can cry another tear or pray another word. Don’t worry. The Spirit intercedes on your behalf. The Father knows your need. . .always. And He will answer in His time and in His ways. That we can be certain of, without a doubt.
How do we as Christian parents endure a broken heart in times of great distress such as this?
* Trust – Remember that God is all-knowing, in control, and has a plan and a purpose.
* Keep praying. Be persistent. Develop prayer partners. Keep pouring out your parent’s heart before the Lord.
He will strengthen you. He will mend your broken heart. You never know what He might have in store. It is very possible that there could be a wonderful testimony in the making!
Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Lord, I lay my heart before You
And I pour out my very soul.
Desperate, You know what I need
As empty before You I go.
Lord, strengthen my weary heart–
Make it strong once again.
For only You can meet this need,
Hold me tight, my Savior Friend.
I know no other way to go
I’m spent beyond my measure.
Fill me Lord, my Life, my Song
Spin my life with peace, Your Treasure.

Read more at All About Prayer

The Change We’ve Been Looking For…..Begins in US! ~Diane Viere

So many families who live with the dysfunction of a wayward loved one struggle to find just the right solution that will cause their loved one to change. Paralyzed by fear, defeated by hopelessness, they walk through life never experiencing joy….joy has been deferred until…until…until their loved one changes.
Lifetimes are spent sacrificing personal well-being and fulfillment all in an attempt to change someone else.
Body, mind and soul become depleted as we become financially, spiritually, and emotionally bankrupt.
No matter what we do, we cannot effect change in the life of our loved one. We wait. We search. We believe we are responsible for the change in their lives; and the pain of our struggle grows as we continue to refuse to accept that which we do not want to accept.
“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” ~ Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
BREAKING NEWS: You are the change you’ve been looking for!
You are NOT responsible for the choices, the behaviors, the consequences of your prodigals life.
He/she IS responsible for his/her choices, behaviors and must face the sting of the consequences to learn from their prodigal journey. As long as we continue to assume the responsibility (cross THEIR personal boundaries), we rob them of the growth opportunity that is presented with every poor choice, every dangerous action, every irresponsible behavior. As long as we continue to enable our prodigals, we engage in their journey causing significant collateral damage. Both to them and to us.
The change you’ve been looking for is IN you!
Things do not change; we change. ~ Henry David Thoreau
You can step into JOY today: YOU can change!
* Decide today to step back into your life.
* Build a fence around you. Define what is your responsibility and what is not. Remember, fences keep danger out and keep you inside, safe from entering harm’s way.
* Begin your ‘boundary training.’ Respect your fence! Honor your boundaries! “Do” your boundaries!
“If your boundary training consists only of words, you are wasting your breath. But if you ‘do’ boundaries […others] will internalize the experiences, remember them, digest them, and make them part of how they see reality.” ~Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
Feel the effectiveness of Dr’s Cloud and Townsend’s words: Here we’ve been trying to affect change for all of these years….and all we had to do was establish and ‘do’ our boundaries! We are the change we’ve been looking for!
* Choose what will be protected behind your new fence: your joy, your happiness, your dreams, your goals. Family, finances, faith, fun! What do you want your life to look like? Remember, life is NOT a dress rehearsal! You pass this way only once…isn’t it time to take the reins of your life…and ENJOY!
But what about our prodigals? How can we move on without them?
Grab your Bibles and read Luke 15: 11-24. I’ll be here waiting…go ahead…give it a read 🙂
I just have one question: What did the father of the lost son do?
He did not chase after his prodigal and enter the pig pen with him.
He did not save his prodigal from hunger, despair, or squander.
He! Stayed! Home! He stayed behind his front gate and continued on with his life. Oh, he awaited the return of his lost son (and I can imagine him sending his servants each and every day to look for his son’s return) for we read in vv 22-24: “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
The father waited, but he never took one step out of his own life, his own purpose. He didn’t engage in his prodigal’s journey in spite of the famine, hardship, danger or despair.
If you love a prodigal–you KNOW, how you KNOW–this could not have been easy.
And yet, what do we learn from the father in this parable?
We’re gonna need a fortress of boundaries to prepare for that banquet, aren’t we, for with every word of struggle our prodigal faces, we are tempted to ease their pain. With every devastating phone call, we are tempted to save her. With every discovery of imminent harm, we are tempted to pay the price in their stead.
Yet, if we continue to try to change that which we cannot change, how will we ever be able to one day throw a banquet upon their return home if we are broken emotionally, financially and spiritually.
The change begins in us!
Return of the Prodigal by Lionello Spada