PRODIGALS DO COME HOME
by Bob Steinkamp
Today’s message is from Bob, who was a prodigal who returned home and was remarried to me for an additional 23 years before the Lord took him home to Heaven. Bob wrote 19 books from the prodigal’s perspective for more than two decades after our divorce and remarriage. – Charlyne
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Psalm 51:7-9
This may be difficult for people living in northern areas to understand, but most Floridians long to experience snow. No, we do not want to drive in snow, nor to live or work in snow. It would be great if we could somehow be transported into snow, throw a couple of snowballs and then just as quickly, return to the shorts and air conditioning weather that we know as winter in south Florida.
During the winter, I enjoy watching the webcam from my boyhood hometown, Paducah, Kentucky. (Yes, Paducah has a webcam. They also have men and women who are praying and standing for the restoration of their marriages.) I have often seen snow on Broadway in Paducah, and I longed to experience snow in the town where I was born.
Unfortunately, a different type of longing almost destroyed our family. In the eighties, I envisioned how super it would be to experience not snow, but sin. After all, the sin cams were showing sin as something beautiful; something to be experienced. Like the snow in Paducah, I was watching sin lightly falling everywhere.
If only I could be dropped into sin – nothing really bad – just to experience the forbidden thrills and then just as quickly be transported back into my family. What would it hurt, I reasoned, and who would know?
As days progressed, I watched the sin cams more and more. The desire to be a part of that scene went from my head, to my heart, to my hands where I acted on it. One day I made the journey into the far country, just long enough to throw not snowballs, but a couple of sinballs and came back home, no harm done, or so I thought. In truth, just like being out in the snow, I had tracked sin back into our home. Additionally, each journey also froze another small part of my heart.
I doubt if one trip to Paducah would satisfy my desire to be in the snow for very long. There would come a day when I would want to go again, stay longer and do more. That is what happened with sin. Each time I would see sin falling, I simply had to go there. One day I was not satisfied with simply tossing sinballs, but stayed out in sin long enough to build not a snowman, but a sinman and that man was me.
I do not need to view Paducah’s webcam to know what will happen a few days after every snowfall. The weather will warm and that beautiful white snow will start to melt. In the process, it will pick up all the dirt on the street. The white snow will become dirty, wet slush. That is exactly what happened to my sin. I was soon carrying home not snow, but dirty slush from each visit to the places where sin was falling.
Charlyne and I hurt for men and women, praying and standing for their marriage, who are mopping up the slush of sin every day. We know restored couples raising Ishmael children, born outside of marriage. Others are together mopping up financial ruin or facing health issues because of sin outside of marriage. If you envision slush as a hindrance to the restoration of your family, please remember our Lord God will be right beside you, handing you the spiritual mop sufficient for the task and drying away your tears while you and He tackle the messes together. The sins of your prodigal spouse are breaking the heart of God but He continues to love the one you love with unconditional love.
My hometown gave the example in dealing with snow that we must follow in dealing with a mate’s sin. Paducah had the salt and the scrapers ready before the first snowflake fell. They had a plan to first clean the major roads and then the side streets. You, as a stander, need to be salting your prodigal mate’s path of life with prayer. Waiting to start praying until there is a crisis is akin to Paducah deciding to clean the streets after the snow is ten feet deep and that is difficult.
A few years ago, Charlyne and I went to Manhattan by train to meet with New York standers. Although the weather was cold and the skies clear, while riding through New Jersey we began to observe small piles of very dirty snow left over from another storm days before. On our southbound trip, the snow was gone. The sun had come out and the temperature had warmed up sufficiently to erase all evidence of an earlier snow.
After your prodigal returns, they may have patches of sin, pushed like the snow in New Jersey, into a forgotten pile. Do not be discouraged when you observe one of these. Once the Son comes by, He can melt away anything. Remember, coming home can be instant, but restoration is a process and God melting away sin is a major part of that process.
What happened to the spouse you love so much? Acting childish, they bought into the temptation to go play in the snow, (oops, sin). If you have salted the path to your front door by standing with the Lord, praying, forgiving every day and loving your prodigal without condemnation, be confident that when that light sinfall turns into a blizzard of circumstances in your mate’s life, they will be thinking of home. May we, with God’s help, always keep the way home cleared.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18
Because He lives,