Thursday, March 16, 2006

Still scratching our heads.

I think it was four, maybe five years ago we were visiting family in Tennessee. We out-of-towners were staying at a nice hotel in town. Our oldest son was in his grand-parents room so there were only six of us in our room.

I remember suddenly waking up one night and realizing the bed of youngest daughter was empty. She would have been only five or six then. We found her down the hall, asleep behind a tree near the elevator. She had somehow in her sleep-walk managed to walk right by our bed, undo three locks and wander down the hall.

I never heard a blamed thing.

And every time we travel with the kids, my wife moves furniture in front of the hotel door.

The latest turn is that my prodigal daughter has alienated her friends and has now ditched them as well. For some reason she has decided to leave her friends and, well, rest assured that we know where she is: physically, safe; spiritually, prayed for.

What does a parent do but review everything, looking and asking, "where did I go wrong that my child feels they have to do things like this?" We just can't figure it out. I think it has more to do with sibling rivalry than anything else. I've actually made conscious efforts to belay this among children and in my own parenting; nevertheless, it still happens, right? But sometimes, sibling rivalry can be fed by others, even the church. "Why can't you be more like your sister?"

My oldest son asked the right question the other day: "what do we do if and when she comes back home?" I reminded him of that story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son. Making him tell me the story was good for both of us. When he finished, I said, "that's how she will be received."

But one thought will not go away, and further questions of my own develop. "What happened the next day and the next week, and the following month around that house Jesus spoke of?"

What did they say to each other?
How did they work through their stuff?
What kind of counseling would they have received?
Biblical counsel would have looked like . . . what in that day?
There was only one nouthetic Rabbi right now. What would have been Jesus' counsel to them from scripture?

What would Jesus say to the Prodigal?
What would Jesus say to the brother?
What would Jesus say to the father and the mother?
What instructions would the servants receive?

I know the context of the passage and I know the point of the story; however, if situations like ours drive folks to look at passages Luke 15 for hope, then how do we carry it through to resolution. The story ends with the point Jesus makes . . . or does it?

I actually think I have an idea about what He would say . . . I'll let you know.

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