Mom and Dad earnestly ministered for decades and were overjoyed at the births of their children. "Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
Over a decade later Dad's health issues flared up. He asked our Minister, Don Rodda if he'd be able to fly down and minister to the congregation until he was well again. Don, wanting to help, agreed. When Don finally returned to us he said, "The sun sets over him" (the father). "They're the very best family I've ever known."
Coming from a broken home I doubted any family could be even close to Utopia. Surely my minister was exaggerating. Visiting with them a couple of years later I was sure I'd see their true colors. Like "Doubting Thomas" I had to see for myself. I would soon uncover flaws in this "very best family".
Boy was I ever wrong! This joyful family was wonderfully bonded. Just like their parents the four sibling's faith was a sight to behold. One evening as we were finishing supper, Debbie said "I'm running late so I'll head to choir practice now." Her Father said, "You'll need to wash the dishes first." I pondered what her response would be: anger, pouting, dejected? I was wrong again. With a warm smile she said, "OK Daddy" and cheerfully picked up dishes and started toward the kitchen. "Debbie, he chuckled, Go and enjoy your practice."
Don had sure been correct: "They're the very best family I've ever known." All 4 children followed in their parents footsteps. The girls married ministers. The boys ministered.
A dozen years later the younger son drifted away. He began sowing wild oats: drinking and partying. It wasn't long before he fully backslid: hanging with a really bad crowd. Heartbroken, Mom and Dad fervently asked the Lord to bring their son back.
One day while attending a sporting event I heard boisterous laughing. It was Todd, with his drinking buddies. Though nauseated I felt the Lord wanted me to speak to him. "Todd, what has happened to you? Don't you know you've broken the hearts of your folks, siblings and friends? Why Todd?
"After I left home the pleasures all around enticed me. I figured if I was going to Hell when I died~I might just as well enjoy all the pleasures I could in the here and now."
Softly I said, "Todd the Lord will forgive you. You know He'll welcome you back. By the way did you know your Dad is in poor health? Have you even seen him?"
A tear danced down his cheek. Moving closer he lowered his head and said quietly, "I'm ashamed to say so, but No."
His buddies seeing Todd in distress told me, "You'd better leave...now!"
Some months later the prodigal came to his senses and returned to the Lord. True to God's Word, ~ "Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life."
Todd went on to marry a sweet and gracious woman. Together they shared the love of God with their precious children. He became a highly appreciated church member. Now he has committed his life to pursuing believers who have drifted away.
"We each must die and disappear like water poured out on the ground. But God doesn’t take our lives. Instead, he figures out ways of bringing us back when we run away." (2 Samuel 14:14, CEV)
Now Todd can sing: