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
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. Psalm 79:13
During my prodigal days, when all three of our children were still school age, I never considered what life would be like decades in the future when we had grandchildren. If I had continued on the road Satan had me on, at the very least, I imagine my relationship with my family would be strained.
If I had married some other woman, she would probably have children and eventually grandchildren, so she would expect me to be a step-grandfather to those children when I had no blood relation to them. I might be dancing around the other woman’s adult children, who wanted their other father to be a grandfather to their kids, not me.
On the other hand, if Charlyne had given up on her stand and married another man, that would be his relationship with my grandchildren. I am sure that Charlyne would see a few Steinkamp traits in our grandchildren, each one reminding her of me and making her wonder what her life could have been like if she had not given up praying for me.
There could be some other man sitting in my recliner. Instead of having a grandpa our grandkids have known all their lives, a man who had somehow dropped into our family would be attempting to love their grandma.
All seven of our grandchildren have already lost a grandparent on the other side of their family to death. Why would I want to hurt them even more by choosing to drop out of their lives, replacing the role God gave me with my selfish and sinful attempts at happiness?
The entire divorce issue is a mess, disadvantaging not only spouses and children for life but also grandchildren. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you could read the letters and emails we receive, you would hate divorce as much as we do. “Divorce Recovery” is an oxymoron because there is no recovering from divorce.
I wish that every prodigal, or even every potential prodigal, could have two views into the future. One of how they and their family might be in 25 years if they came to Christ, stayed home and lived for Him. The other view would be of how their own life, their spouse, their children, and their grandchildren might be in 25 years if they continue on the road to another spouse forsaking their own family.
God does not issue crystal balls to families in trouble. He gives something much better if each of us would only accept it. He gives faith to one spouse in a struggling marriage. By faith, they can see their marriage as restored by God. Their faith is not diminished because they understand it will not happen in an instant. Through faith, that spouse stops depending on their spouse, stops depending on what they can do, and starts depending on what God can do to heal their marriage. Most of all, faith allows them to rely on God’s promises.
It has taken Charlyne and me almost 45 years to build the family of 15 that we enjoy today. Why would I have ever thought that I could have bailed out, found someone else, and that the Steinkamp family would thrive on being the close unit it is today? That does not happen.
I attempted to move out of this home once. It took me going through a divorce and much more, but one day God stopped gently guiding me toward home, as He had done for almost my entire prodigal journey. That July day, God pointed me toward home and said, “Enough is enough.” I sense in my spirit that if I had not returned home that day, God would have said, “You are embarrassing me, calling yourself a Christian but living a life of sin,” and would have taken my life.
In our home, there is a small nail behind my recliner where each grandchild used to hang large plastic keys when they were at the keys stage of crawling. Everyone knows where each Christmas item plugs in and which circuit breaker to flip when the lights in my office go out. When we are preparing for a hurricane, regardless of who comes to help us secure everything, they know where everything goes. This place is our home.
We hear from people concerned that there is no longer a home where God can restore their marriage because of divorce. For some, their home was sold as part of the divorce settlement. Others have lost their family home through foreclosure. Others have sold their house and moved out of their area. Regardless of where you live, God knows your address. God knows, even if you do not know, where your prodigal might be. The Lord also knows the exact place where He will rebuild a home for you and your spouse or family.
On the day we remarried, I would have gone home with Charlyne, even if she had to live in her car in the parking lot. The love you are asking Jesus to rebuild can make any place a “home,” be it an oceanfront mansion or a hotel room. It is a lie from the enemy, pure and simple, that God cannot restore your marriage because you no longer have a family home. Please do not buy into that illogical reasoning.
Over the years, Charlyne and I have known people who lived in the humblest surroundings, yet they managed to make it their home. When God had everyone ready, their spouse would have been honored to live with them in that location. When you and your prodigal reunite, your beloved will be much more interested in your love and forgiveness than your decor.
What will your prodigal be looking for? A place of peace. When we come out of the roar and confusion of the far country, we only want a place of peace. We seek the peace of God, but many prodigals, including this one, confuse the peace at home with the peace of God. Since you do not know when your spouse will appear, it is essential to make your home, regardless of where it might be right now, a place of peace.
What is God looking for in a home inside you? He is looking for a pure heart, with sins forgiven, where His Spirit might dwell. Once that internal home is cleaned and ready, get ready for your exterior house to be turned into a home by the power of God.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
Because He lives,