ST. LOUIS & THE PRODIGAL

Prodigal

I‘m so excited to have been invited to Guest Post at No Ordinary Days! My friend Angela Howard, author and speaker, has featured my post about a time when my son had walked away from God into some dangerous territory. Please visit her encouraging website and consider her book: How To Love Your Crazy Family: 52 Quick Reads for No Ordinary Days.

Thank you, Angela, for the opportunity to share with your readers!

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About Your Prodigal

Special Note: Today’s Guest Post is by my dear friend Sherrie St. Hilaire. Weaving words is clearly her calling as she creates a tapestry of emotion and clarity that brings truth. Sherrie has a gift that carries you away on a journey where you find your soul refreshed and your heart renewed. Don’t miss this post and be sure to subscribe to her blog. You won’t regret it!

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The setting sun was kissing the Gateway Arch when we neared St. Louis. The horizon was dramatic with a blazing orange sun coloring the skyline and gilding the buildings in gold.

The drama seemed fitting.

I lost my youngest son in this Midwestern city that hugs the Mississippi River and gazes eastward.

His road to the NFL was a mixed bag; a hard-fought journey down a not-so-yellow-brick road and a dream come true–the reward of hard work and singular tenacity. For me, the bag held the swell of parental pride sheathed in cautious reserve.

The NFL and cocaine and the lifestyle and anxiety and exploitation comingled and took my son down a dark road. Lost to me were his bright eyes, big smile, tender heart, and affectionate embrace—lost was this child of mine who prayed for lost keys as readily as he prayed for lost souls.

St. Louis was a battleground for my son—it was a battleground for me.

He battled contenders in training camp for a spot on the roster, battled opponents in the regular season, and battled enormous anxiety in the face of one of the NFL’s most verbally abusive defensive coordinators ever—so says his mother! For eleven years he left 100% of himself on the gridiron–left his Bible on the shelf.

His biggest battle was the clash of cultures between his faith and his fame.

My battle was with codependency, picking up the balls he dropped in his world while dropping the balls in my own. I battled fear. It was a non-stop category 4 storm that made normal living impossible. I battled my broken heart when he lost regard for his mother. And I battled anger. How could he follow the pied piper down the road that took his father?

My biggest battle was for his soul, waged on my knees when fear outweighed faith.

Few words describe the vice grip a child’s addiction places on a mama’s heart, how it squeezes out hope and crushes peace; how it clamps you to sleepless nights and binds your feet in concrete shoes.

Addiction forces you to live your child’s death over and over and over again. And no matter how many times in life Jesus has carried you through the fire, the fallout of substance abuse sinisterly contends with the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

Jesus had the last word on my St. Louis story.

He has the last word on prodigals too.

What I Learned:

  • Jesus goes after prodigals and keeps a shepherd’s close watch.
  • No pigpen, arena, stage or back alley can drown the sonar of heaven pinging from the seeds of Truth sown in their young hearts.
  • Even when your lips are blank and you don’t know how to pray, know that Jesus is ever interceding on their behalf.
  • Don’t run after your prodigal. But do keep an eye on the horizon and a welcome mat at the front door.

My tears began with a pinch of pain going through St. Louis but it was from a gusher of gratitude that they continued to flow.

You see, years later, on the horizon of a family farm in Washington State there appeared the silhouette of a prodigal.

With St. Louis in the review mirror, I picked up my phone.

“Hey son,” I managed through sniffles. “You’re gonna have to tolerate my tears—but I just had to call.”

“Everything okay?”

“Oh yes!” I managed with some composure. “I’m just so incredibly grateful for God’s grace…that you are serving Jesus, raising babies and working on the farm. It just hits me sometimes.”

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