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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Even Billy Graham had prodigal kids

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.--Proverbs 22:6

What do you do when it all goes wrong? When, despite having done what you thought was your best, your children take the wrong path?

My recent interview with Allison Bottke about her book, Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children, gave me plenty of food for thought.

I have only one "child" living at home now--my 21-year-old daughter. My sons are 28 and 25, no longer living at home, gainfully employed and faithful attenders of church. All three of my children love the Lord and have given me no cause for grief to date. Thank God for that.

But that isn't always the case. I have friends who did everything "right," or at least they thought they did. And now they're struggling with grown children who have broken their hearts and caused them severe pain and grief.

I thought about Allison's book just the other day, when I saw a video about Tullian Tchividjian. Never heard of him? Neither had I...but he is a grandson of revered evangelist Billy Graham.

Tchvidgian told blogger Justin Taylor in an interview:

"I grew up in an amazing Christian home. The flavor of Christianity that was expressed by my family was not legalistic or oppressive. It was joyful, warm, inviting, hospitable, and real...however... I couldn’t figure out where I fit inside the home and so I set out trying to determine where I fit outside the home. And when you are young, immature, sinfully self-centered, and desperate for belonging, you make some pretty unwise choices—which I did. The people that I started running around with and the things I started to do began to get me in a lot of trouble. To make a long story short, at the ripe young age of 16, I dropped out of high school, got kicked out of my home (actually escorted off my parent’s property by the police) and started pursuing worldly pleasure with all of my might."

Obviously, something happened to change Tullian. He is now a pastor, and the author of a book titled Do I Know God? As I understand it, his famous grandfather ended up helping him financially through seminary.

But Tullian wasn't the first Graham progeny to rebel. Billy's son Franklin Graham, now a respected and admired ministry leader, experienced his own time as a prodigal.

My point? Even being one of the most respected and admired Christians in the world doesn't exempt you from having children who stray.

As for the questions at the beginning of my post, they don't have easy answers. But God-centered books like Allison Bottke's are a good place to start. Allison stresses that yielding everything to God is the most important step in dealing with your prodigal child.

Father, I pray for my adult children. I pray that you would keep them close to You, and that they would always put You first in their lives. Help me to deal with and interact with my adult children in the way you would have me to. And most of all...THANK YOU for giving them to me.


Blogger Darlene said...

Cindy, that's wonderful! And right on the mark. We have Allison's book for a giveaway this month, so maybe one of todays readers will win it!

March 19, 2008 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Cindy Swanson said...

Darlene, it is an excellent book...really practical and full of wisdom from someone who has been through it herself. I highly recommend it.

March 19, 2008 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Mary Lou said...

My experience with a prodigal wasn't the severe kind, but he was a prodigal. It was very hard to love the sinner and hate the sin and get that message across. He is now happily married and seems to have his life together. We prayed over him and loved him thru it all, we never let the communication totally break down. We did have to stand our ground, which the grandmothers didn't understand because they were both enablers and we refused to be enablers and we were listening to God,not the hearts of humans...Our son now give us credit for things we don't remember and his trust and love of the Lord is a blessing. God does hear and answer prayer. Mary Lou at dlowrn1(at)comcast(dot)net.

March 19, 2008 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Cindy Swanson said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Mary Lou! What an encouragement.

March 19, 2008 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I can identify with this. Thanks for sharing. My prodigal isn't on drugs but she has so turned her back on her upbringing, faith and morals. She is 21 all I can do is pray and give her into God's hands. I rely on God's promise
"Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he sould go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

I pray I live to see it.

March 19, 2008 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger sweet tea &me said...

I think many of us were "prodigals," leaving what was instilled in us when we "left the nest." We turned for a time...not necessarily drugs or prison, but just an indulgence in things of "this world." I count myself as one....time spent in college was NOT always reflective of how I had been raised. Your post was just sooooo true. Only we can turn ourselves back to the Father...

I do not know what lies ahead for my 3 children. I'll pray my way through it, "train" them the best that I know how and pray that they never have to return as a "prodigal..." but if they should find themselves in that situation, I'll wait with open arms...
wonderful post!
thank you for the blessing.

March 19, 2008 at 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Barbara H. @ Stray Thoughts said...

It is sobering that you can do everything "right" and still have a child turn away from the Lord. As someone once said, God is a perfect parent, and look at His children...

I sometimes fear, too, that even when my children do all the "right" things, it is from positive peer pressure rather than their relationship with the Lord. I pray often and trust that God will continue the good work He began in them as He promised.

March 19, 2008 at 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am reminded that Adam and Eve had the perfect parent...God...they still chose to go a different way. God gave us a free will, we are free to turn from God (unfortunately so)...but, our children will not forget how they have been brought up....I have six children, 28 down to 16 and all love the Lord....but there is no guarantee in this life, and our job is to train our children and point them children in the way they should go and trust God for the outcome.

March 19, 2008 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Wonderful post, Cindy. This is a huge encouragement to more people than you can imagine today.

March 19, 2008 at 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Elaine Bateman said...

So true, Cindy! To know that the Word of God doesn't come back void helps during those years that our kids can be on the Prodigal Road. His Word on our children's lives will triumph for our Savior is in control whether those children see it or not! What a great encouragement and blessing with your post!

March 25, 2008 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Great post. I had a daughter who struggled to find her way also. She's now on a 5 month's missions trip overseas. God never stopped relentlessly pursuing she is finding her way.

We do all that we know to do, and in the end, they still have their choices.

It's heartache to watch them.

Thanks again for sharing. I am new to the Internet Cafe's blogging team and look forward to reading more of what God puts on your heart.


March 29, 2008 at 9:01 PM  

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