Craig K. Svensson

7 posts

The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Kindling Affection

“I love you Dad.” The words spilled readily from my son’s lips, but a reply did not quickly flow from mine. His call was yet another attempt to manipulate us to get money he undoubtedly would use for drugs. My hesitancy was not because I questioned my love for him. Rather, it arose because at this moment I did not feel much affection for him. The constant lies. The continual efforts to manipulate us. The efforts to make us feel guilty so we would do as he asked. The threats of bad things that were sure to happen to him if we did not fork over the cash. These made our hearts weary of his calls. His glib expression of […]

The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Anger and Bitterness

It is probably inevitable that parents of prodigals will struggle with anger over the endless impact of the destructive choices of their wayward son or daughter. Their manipulation, lies, and repeated efforts to use you to their advantage can provoke an anger you never thought a parent could have toward their child. If not checked, this anger will damage your other relationships, impair your ability to reach out in love to your prodigal, and jeopardize your spiritual health. A prodigal is accountable for the sinful choice provoking our anger, but we are accountable for our response to their choice. Their sinful action does not justify a sinful response on our behalf. We must never excuse our sin because it was […]

The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Dealing with False Professions

Some parents of prodigals have walked the hard road of a false profession of faith by their son or daughter—only to be heartbroken, realizing it was a manipulative effort to gain some advantage. Having grown up in a Christian home, prodigals are well versed in what to say and do to give their parents hope that their profession may be real. Not wanting to thwart the work of the Spirit, and excited to think that their prayers have been answered, parents may take the profession at face value and welcome their prodigal home. Soon, the reality brings disappointment and the deep pain of betrayal. We should regard with realism any profession of faith. Proverbs 14:15 points out that “[t]he simple […]

The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Facing the Hard Reality

“Didn’t he ever make a profession of faith in Christ as a child?” This question came in response to a request to pray for our wayward son —in particular, asking God to show mercy and save his soul. Since our son grew up in the church, the questioner assumed he experienced many opportunities as a young boy to hear the gospel. Surely, they thought, he responded to an invitation at some point as a young child. Unfortunately, he gave no evidence of a relationship with Jesus in his teenage or adult life. I could not count the number of times we heard parents make statements about their children such as, “I take comfort from the fact that he made a […]

The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Embracing Forgiveness

Parents of a prodigal wrestle with questions of how their own failures contributed to their child’s choice of a wayward path. It is natural to reflect on your parenting and identify things left undone, things you wish you did not do, or things you could have done better. Those who have a prodigal are especially prone to blame themselves, which inevitably harms other relationships in life. As a parent of a prodigal, how does one deal with these struggles? Acknowledge Your Imperfections No parent has always been exemplary in their actions towards their children. There were days when our words to them were wrong, perhaps even destructive. We missed teachable moments because we were preoccupied with lesser things. Does this […]

The Painful Path of a Prodigal: Responding to the Judgment of Others

As parents, we cannot assure the outcome of our children—for good or bad. This does not mean we should abandon instructing our children. We must teach, both in word and by example. We have a responsibility before God to do our very best. The uncertainty of the outcome for any specific child does not reduce or remove this responsibility. How then should we respond when the painful judgment of others falls upon us? First, we should allow it to humble us. We must realize our sovereign God puts critics in our lives for our good. If the Lord uses the wrongful judgment of others to strike a blow to my pride, I should rejoice as this “enemy within” is losing […]

The Painful Path of a Prodigal: The End of the Journey

Having forewarned me it would be difficult to look at, the man slid a photo across my office conference table. I forced my eyes to look down at the image. There was no need to gaze long upon the face. My heart wanted to deny it was he. However, those were clearly his eyes. The nose as I had seen it since his birth. Though his overall features were distorted, there was no denying who the picture captured. Gripped by this reality, I raised my eyes to the man across the table—who sat silent while awaiting my verdict. Deep within I wanted to scream, “I never saw this face before. I do not know who he is.” Yet I did. […]