I was talking to a woman the other day and telling her about our youngest son. She ask me if I had ever shared this story with anyone. I told her not really. I have told a few but not the whole story. Now, I feel like it is the time to share our experience, basically to give hope to those who have lost hope because of a crisis in their life.
In July of 1984, our first grandchild was born and it was one of the greatest days of our lives. But, soon after, the bottom fell out of our world and for 22 years, we grieved and cried out to God daily for the return of our son.
Let me go back a little bit and explain that John, our son, was such a good child and so easy to raise. We never dreamed he experienced all the horrible things that happened to him. He never told us anything until the day he moved out when he was 19 years old. By that time, so much damage had been done to him and it was way beyond us to be able to help him. Anyway, at that point, he didn’t want our help.
The word says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire coming is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). Our hopes were truly destroyed for 22 years, but I never gave up hope that we would get our son back. There were days when I thought it would kill me or I wouldn’t live through the pain, but I did and in the end, God has done so many miracles in his life and ours.
For the first eight years, everyday I kept thinking and praying that that would be the day it would all be over.
At the time all of this happened, we were on staff at a very large church of about 8,000 in Rockwall, Texas. Bob was the pastor of the Singles Ministry and he was over about 600 people. A couple of years earlier, we had graduated from Bible College and we thought we had the “world by the tail.” But, much to our surprise, God had other plans and today I can look back and see I would never be the person I am today if I had not gone through that 22 years of “The valley of the shadow of death” (Psalms 23:4). God was with me each step of the way, even at times when I felt totally abandoned.
Isaiah 54:13 says, “All of your sons will be taught of the Lord and the well-being of your sons will be great.” This was the scripture I held on to all those years and several people would call and say, “I was praying for you today and the Lord gave me this scripture for you.” Another scripture that really helped me through the rough times was Luke 1:45: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” John was the only child we had after we were born again. We also have two other children, Susan and Neil.
When John was born, we dedicated him to the Lord and knew God had great plans for his life. The name John means gift of God and he truly was a gift sent to us.
During those 22 years, there were lots of ups and downs, but I never gave up and everyday I kept expecting our prodigal son to come home.
Now, I want to tell you about the miracle of restoration and reconciliation. June of 2006, Bob was praying and the Lord spoke to him to pray for John. Bob said, Lord I have prayed for him everyday. Then he heard the Lord say, “Pray for him now!” So he did and 20 minutes after he walked out of the bedroom the phone rang and guess what? It was John. He was crying and he said, “Dad, I can’t do this anymore.” Bob said to him, “John, talk to me, I’m your dad and I will help you.” So, John broke down and they talked for a long time.
For the last two years, he is a brand new man, “old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.” He lives in California and is a member of a Messianic Jewish Church and involved in several groups to help others.
God has given us back our son and even better than we ever dreamed or imagined. My prayer for each of you reading this article is never give up. If you are going through something that seems impossible, just remember the Lord said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Find scriptures that relate to your situation and continue to remind the Lord of what he says in his word. It’s the hard times that make us who God wants us to be. This is when he shows us that as we trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not to our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledge him and he will direct our steps. Proverbs 3:5-6.
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author’s church affiliation.)