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Answered Prayer, Our Prodigal Son

Fifteen is a difficult year for any child, especially one who believes he is unloved, and beset upon by parents who don't understand his angst. His three sisters had already left home for college and their perceived freedom.

The August night, extremely warm and sticky as the weather often is as summer fades into autumn. My husband and I had invited our son to accompany us to a Wednesday night prayer meeting, a chance for us all to chill in the air conditioning and a chance to focus on other things besides our family drama. Our son declined the invitation. We left him home at his request, with a short list of easy household chores, hoping he would be responsible and do them. We were realists with these requests, but always wanted to give him the opportunity to see the importance of sharing household responsibilities. We wanted him to know we trusted him to do the right thing. He knew we thought his sharing household responsibilities important to us, but it only seemed to give him a motive for defiance and anger.

We ate a light supper, unusually calm and pleasant, our son promising to load the dishwasher. Pleased with the calmness that surrounded dinner, and sure that all was well, we left him home. When we returned, we were dismayed to see all the doors open and all the lights on. That seemed to be one of the constant battles we had with our kids.

We lived on a very rural road. Our nearest neighbor lived a mile away and at night no artificial light from street or building could be seen. The light being left on did not alarm us, but the front door being left open of immediate concern. Parking our car by the barn and walking to the house gave us some time to ponder the scene. We started calling his name as we entered the house, concerned he was ok, but he didn’t answer, and we couldn’t find him in the house. We noticed that his bike was not in its usual place on the porch and had the thought that he had used it to run away. My husband checked his bedroom more closely and found a note announcing just that. He had run away. He told us he had taken some food, his sleeping bag, some money, and he assured us he would be fine.

We needed to find him! We had a plan. My husband would take his car and drive around to see if he could find him, and I would go to the State Police and report him missing. The police told me that our son was too old for them to look for him. Twelve was the cut-off age for run-always, but in my distress the trooper said they would keep an eye out for him when he went on patrol. I returned home before my husband, extremely distraught. I could think of only one thing to do that I knew could ease my pain. I knelt down and prayed.

“Lord, you know all things. I know you know where my son is. Please keep him safe and send him home. Lord, send the biggest mosquitos in the county to plague him, allow his bike to break, and in your mighty voice tell him to come home! Father, I know you love him even more than I do. Please keep him safe and give us your peace so we can sleep tonight. Amen.” There was nothing more I could do. My husband returned and we went to bed for a restful night's sleep.

I was in the midst of making breakfast when our son came down the road in front of our house pushing his bike. We immediately ran out and embraced him. He placed his bike on the porch and we all went into the house for breakfast.

I had tears streaming down my face as I held him close. While holding him I asked him where he had gone and was he all right? He said, "There is a cave on the mountain. I went there. It was pitch black and I could hardly see. You are not going to believe what happened next. The flashlight broke. I have never heard so many huge mosquitos buzzing around me, and you probably won't believe me, but God yelled at me and told me to go home! The bike broke as I stumbled down the mountain in the dark. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I left the sleeping bag there. You aren't mad at me, are you?"

All I could do was hug him and tell him how much I loved him and how glad I was that he was home.

God certainly does answer prayer!

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