So you can more easily understand that when we went “downtown” to see the Christmas parade, because I could not see over the crowd my parents sent me to sit on the curb with several other children. They could see me from several “rows” back throughout the whole parade, and trusted me to “meet them by the light pole” when it was over.
But when it was over and everyone stood and started milling around, the light pole disappeared. I was four feet tall and all those big people were in the way. After a couple of panicky moments my good sense kicked in. We had parked on the north side of Highway 50 three or four blocks from the parade site. It was a straight shot to the car. So I set off walking, and in short order found the car and stood by it.
About fifteen minutes later my parents found me. “I couldn’t see the pole,” I told them, “but I knew where the car was.” Of course I had no idea how frantic they had been, but they were not angry, just glad I had found my way back to a place where they could find me as well, and managed to hide what must have been overwhelming relief.
I have many friends who, though they have raised their children well, have since lost them to the world. I know they beat themselves up regularly, wondering what they did wrong. Maybe nothing--God did give us free will after all. I can find many godly parents in the Bible who raised hellions, and many ungodly parents who somehow produced some of God’s most faithful people.
If you find yourself in that position today, here is something to comfort your tortured soul—if you did your best, then you have given them what they need to find their way back. They may be in a confusing place right now, a place where all they can see are hip pockets and belt buckles, and the light pole they need to see is hidden from them. But if you gave them a straight course while they were still with you, then, when they finally give up trying to make sense of a complicated world on their own, they can follow that course back where it started and find their way to God again.
What is the hardest part of all this? The waiting. In fact, you may not live to see their return, but now it’s time for you to have that faith you tried so hard to instill in them. You showed them the path, and if they have the heart, they will find it. There will still be a Father looking down the road, waiting to welcome them home, even if you are gone and cannot do it yourself. Hang onto that hope, and don’t ever let it go.
I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants." And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:18-24.