From my personal experience, and from ministry experience, I suspect that most prodigals who have returned home, and have stayed home to see their marriage restored, have done so after a pull toward home by the Holy Spirit is so strong, but then the Enemy tugs us back in the opposite direction.
For the sake of illustration, at times, it is much like two boys playing tug of war on the playground. Just when one appears to be winning, the second gives a tremendous tug on the rope that once again brings things back like they were. But please do not think that your God is in a battle of power with Satan. It is your spouse on one end of the rope, and the Enemy on the other. Your marriage is in the center for the winner to claim.
We were divorced, and I had been offered a job out of town. I had quit my job locally, and given notice that I was breaking the lease on my efficiency apartment. Suddenly the out-of-town offer was in question. I was to be told in a few days if the offer was still open. I faced being unemployed, with no place to live. My first thought when I hung up that doubtful phone call was, “If this all falls through, I will move home.”
Why did I consider going home? Because my wife had told me that the door at home was always open for me, regardless of the circumstances, and at any time. I called her and explained my dilemma, but even before calling, I was confident of what her reply would be, because she had told me, not only in words, but in her actions. Does your prodigal know they are welcomed back at home? If so, does your walk match your talk?
One of the most discouraging areas of day-to-day ministry work is dealing with people who are dabbling with standing. It is extremely frustrating to have a person report:
“Yes, I am standing for my marriage, but I also go to divorce recovery because it helps my self-esteem. The reason I am so active in the Singles Ministry at church is to be around other people. I do go out, but it is really not dating. He/she is also standing and understands. I have failed morally, but only a couple of times, and besides, God understands my needs. He doesn’t want me to be miserable. I am so busy that I had to unsubscribe from ‘Charlyne Cares’ messages. They were filling my mailbox. I try to remember to pray on the way to work, unless there is something good on the radio. I stopped praying for my prodigal, though, and am just letting God work.
“My wedding bands? I don’t wear them because God might send someone into my life and they would think I am married and not approach me. I think I know where my rings are, though, for when my spouse comes home. There will be time to find them, because I have made a list, based on what everyone has told me my spouse must do before I can allow them in the house again.”
Thankfully, this did not all come from the same individual, or I might have had stroke number seven.
If I have offended you, by one of those comments, I make no apology. Some prodigal men and women may be heading towards Hell, living in sin and having no personal relationship with Christ.
The false start toward home may come for your spouse. When it does, you must always be prepared to intensify your praying, your spiritual warfare, your time with the Lord, and your stand with Him.
In my false start, the Enemy pulled his end of the rope, and the job came through. The other person was off to help me move. Did Charlyne give up over all this? You know the rest of the story.
I can assure you that after that incident, when I knew I was welcomed at home, I began to have false starts in rapid-fire succession, until the day I obeyed what the Holy Spirit had been telling me to do for two years.
Your spouse can be manipulated back home, but that is not God’s plan. If you do, this is not a false start; it is a stall, and you know what happens to airplanes that stall — they crash. The Lord wants to change you first, and then your mate, rebuilding your marriage on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.
If your prodigal is making false starts toward home, and then backing out or disappearing, stand strong and rejoice because God is at work in the life of your resistant mate.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!… Romans 7:21-25
Because He lives,