Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where Was His Mother?

I've heard it told from many angles and it never gets old.  It's the story from Luke 15 about the prodigal son - the son who wanders away from his father, takes his inheritance (basically cashes in on it before his dad is even dead), lives a wild and crazy life for awhile before he crashes and burns and then finally comes back to his senses.  When he comes home, his father is there waiting for him with open arms.  The brother, who never left, is not as happy to see him but is angry because he feels the mercy and grace his father shows his wayward brother is unwarranted and undeserved. 

The angles I've heard recently on this story have been fascinating.  One missionary pointed out a few months back that the eldest brother was responsible for running after the wayward son - but he never went after him.  Apparently, that was the tradition with the Jewish people then - the eldest brother was responsible for the younger siblings in that way.  His point was - why didn't he go after him?  And...why aren't we going after our prodigal brothers and sisters?  I thought that was so powerful.

I also remember reading about how the story should not be called "The Prodigal Son" but instead should be called "The Faithful Father".  I couldn't agree more.  The picture of the father running toward his son with open arms as he came home after being gone for so long and being so ungrateful and selfish is just overwhelming to me.

In talking with my mentor yesterday, we discussed how the wayward son had to hit rock-bottom (the story describes him eating with pigs) before he would ever be able to come to his senses and come back home.  How often does this happen in our lives?  When we are stripped of everything and left with nothing - that is often what it takes to wake us up. We can be so complex and hard-headed sometimes.

But one angle I've never heard in all the years I've heard this story shared is what keeps coming back to me.  Where was the mother in this story?  I talked with my mentor about this before - we both wondered the same thing.  As mothers, our hearts break as we think about how devastated she must have been.  Why on earth would God leave her out of this story?  If it were my son, I would be pacing the floor, praying non-stop and would be completely devastated.  I wondered if she was doing the same thing?  Not even a mention of her, though.  Nothing.  I wondered why.

Until yesterday.  I prayed and asked the Lord for some insight into why He didn't give her any face-time in this story.  As a mother, it almost upset me that she was not mentioned and I was honest with Him about that.  I think God appreciates when we are honest with Him and He definitely doesn't shy away from the tough questions. I wanted to know how she handled it!  I wanted to know if she was as desperate and scared for her son as I would be!  I wanted to know if she begged her husband to do more, prayed the same prayer over and over again or if she ran after him at all.  What did she do?

Then the answer came to me so gently during prayer.  Perhaps the mother was not mentioned because she was doing exactly what God told her to do in this devastating situation?  She kept quiet, surrendered her son to the Lord and submitted to her husband's leadership in this matter.  You see...we moms can't take this kind of pain.  It's just unthinkable.  It's devastating and it's more than we can bear.  The good news is, we don't have to take this pain on ourselves.  God tells us to give Him our burdens.  He tells us to submit to our husbands.  And He doesn't do that so we will be a doormat or so we will be lazy and not handle things; He does this so we will be protected. 

Perhaps in quiet strength, the mother continued to look after her home and her children.  She probably stayed busy and continued to run her errands.  I'm sure she prayed for her son - probably constantly.  I'm sure she had her moments of weakness and tears.  But perhaps her strength was in her submission and her trust in her God to bring her son home.

And we all know the end of the story.  Her wayward son did come home.  And as the father in the story was preparing the feast, I can't help but wonder if the mother was on her knees in the background - thanking God for bringing her wayward son home and giving Him glory for this precious reunion. 

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24 (Message)

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,  when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:1-4 (NIV)


Kela said...

I'm glad that you bought up the question. I'd never thought of it before.
Faithful father...and faithful mother.
A wife submitted to God and her husband is definitely her husband's (earthly) strength.
It does us well to remember that God isn't small; He can handle all of our pain and pressure, and that we are to remain faithful.

This was very encouraging!

Leslie Nease said...

You're right, Kela - He isn't small and He can handle it for us!! Your encouragement means so much - thank you for leaving a comment! :)

Anonymous said...

Reading you blog about the prodigal son...I have gone through a year with a prodigal daughter, who has not really returned home, but she is in a situation which at some point she will need her mother. I prayed and prayed and begged believing God would heal her, but that didn't happen, instead she is pregnant facing possible jail time, has no money, living with a person, who is the biological contributer to her pregnancy, who is also facing jailtime. But unlike the prodigal father/mother, my relationship with God has come to a screeching halt....I can't/don't pray anymore, I quit reading my bible, I still listen to Christian music, hanging on to the little hope that something will bring me to my knees and bring me back to God, but right now I am too angry. And to let you know what pushed me over the edge...hearing someone tell me God loves me.....The door shut feeling like that was a lie...how could he love me....the pain I have felt...and honestly..I have trouble loving my daughter right now.
However, your blog did give me some insight and words to think about.
Thank you

Leslie Nease said...

Patty, I'm so sorry to hear about your situation with your daughter. That is so much to go through - I cannot imagine. I'm glad the blog gave you insight - and I pray God will continue to shine light on your situation. He has never left your side. He understands your pain and your heartbreak (we break His heart daily!) so I hope you will run to Him and ask Him to help you. I also would recommend finding someone at your church who you could talk with and get some good counsel - it's so important that we are there for one another - especially during these tough times. Praying for you!!

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