We beat ourselves up: “Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently? Why did I do that?” The soul-searching questions of why and what went wrong, self-accusations, recall of history, memories of bad decisions–these can haunt the mind of a parent of a prodigal. Add the pressure of families whose children all turned out to be missionaries or pastors, and the guilt can be torturous. We pray, ask forgiveness, put it all in God’s hands.
Then, just when you think you have conquered and overcome these thought processes, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), Satan will cause them to rear their ugly heads (Revelation 12:10).
There are two things at play in these times that are far more powerful than any accusation from Satan or ourselves: forgiveness and Jehovah Tsidkenu. This is where we find our rest.
FORGIVENESS-We simply did not do everything right, but when we ask God to forgive us, it is done and those sins are no longer remembered by God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Accept it. It is done! You are no longer condemned! “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Do you see that? NO CONDEMNATION! If you asked for it, you are forgiven. Ask God to help you forgive yourself, and ask your child to forgive you. Now you can move forward and no longer accept the condemnation. We no longer have to wallow in the thoughts of shortcomings and maybe even sins in our parenting. Yes, they were there, but with God, they no longer are.
JEHOVAH TSIDKENU, The LORD our Righteousness-We are responsible to ask forgiveness for sins and to live holy lives, but Christ is responsible to make us righteous before the Father. Our only part in the process is faith. “But now the righteousness of God . . .is revealed . . . even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:21-22). “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Jehovah Tsidkenu is His name. It is Who He is! It is done! WE ARE RIGHTEOUS before the Father! Isn’t that incredible? What about the effects of those actions? Ask God to “restore the years the locust” ate (Joel 2:25), to take your meager effort as a parent and multiply it to be enough just like Jesus did the five loaves and two fishes (Matthew 14:17-21), and to work “all things . . . together for good” (Romans 8:28). (Papa Henderson used to say, “When the Bible says all, that means there ain’t no more.”) God can do that. He can take our mistakes and sins and bring good from it.
So when those accusing thoughts weigh you down, waste your time, and make you want to spend prayer time asking forgiveness for things already forgiven instead of praying for the salvation of your prodigal, remember: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, underline mine).
We are no longer condemned, and we are righteous! Thank You, Lord!
(All scriptures taken from the New King James Version.)