Today’s message is from Bob who was a prodigal who returned home and was remarried to me for an additional 23 years before the Lord took him home to Heaven. Bob wrote 19 books from the prodigal’s perspective for more than two decades after our divorce and remarriage. - Charlyne
No, this message is not about an old popular television program, but about a door that the Lord opens for many standers during the early stages of marriage restoration. Sadly, some standers do not enter into what the Lord has provided. Charlyne and I desire that you be cognizant of the opportunity to minister to your prodigal spouse through friendship.
This subject surfaced once again recently. I was thumbing through one of Charlyne’s notebooks, titled “Miracles,” that she has filled with email and letters. Although it did not address the topic I was researching, I paused and carefully read one email, received over a year or two ago, which began, “My broken and hurting husband called and asked if we could be friends.”
That wounded wife described the tragic circumstances of her family. Since leaving home, her prodigal husband had lost the other person, his job, his finances, and his health. He called that standing wife, not seeking reconciliation, but simply to ask if they might be friends.
What would be your reaction if your prodigal spouse called in the next five minutes to ask if you could “just be friends?” Would you agree without delay, or would you launch into a litany about unfaithfulness, unrepentance, and unforgiveness? Would joy be evident in your voice, or would you waste that opportunity from God to lay down ground rules and boundaries?
Many of the personal messages of encouragement we have received recently have expressed appreciation for “Bob’s perspective as a prodigal.” I feel led to share more from that perspective with you today.
It is miserable being a prodigal. It is lonely being a prodigal. It is embarrassing being a prodigal. The only friends we have are those who feel we can do something for them. We are as counterfeit as smeared ink on a new twenty dollar bill, and we know it.
Our spouse thinks it is about sex. We know it is really about shame. Our spouse thinks it is about the good life. We know it is really about the guilty life. Our spouse thinks it is about new friends. We know it is really about lost friends. Our spouse thinks it is about what we left home seeking. We know it is really about what we left home and lost. Our spouse thinks it is about walking away from God. We know it is really about being ashamed and attempting to hide from God.
“But my prodigal is so happy,” someone is countering. Yes, your prodigal may appear to be “happy,” because that is the front we prodigals must demonstrate to the world. How much happiness can come from being separated from the inseparable, a covenant spouse, walking away from home, family, community, almost everything in a former life, and attempting to start all over with a replacement spouse? Until you can hear your prodigal mate’s heart, and not simply their words, you cannot determine their happiness.
Why should you now hate the same person that you once stood with before God and were joined in marriage? “Because of what they have done,” is not an answer. Those tricks are being put together not by your spouse, but by the evil one himself. Your anger needs to be directed toward Satan, and not taken out on your spouse.
Following my 1995 stroke, my entire left side was paralyzed. I was in rehab attempting to regain use of my lifeless arm and leg. I soon learned in physical therapy not to refer to my left limbs as my “bad arm” or “bad leg.”
Every therapist would deliver the same reply, “What has that arm/leg ever done to you? It’s not bad, only weak right now, but that will change.” What has your spouse ever done to you, except what the enemy has made them do? (By the way, this message is being typed with two hands because everything came back. Is there a message here for you?)
Assume with me that you have received a second phone call. This one is from a person (of the same sex) whom you greatly admire. The caller says, “I am wondering if we could be friends.” No doubt you would be flattered, and start making plans with that other person. Why then, can’t you be friends with your covenant mate?
Charlyne and I pray that you will always be ready to be friends with your wayward mate. That just might be the avenue the Lord is using to bring the one you love back to both a Heavenly Father and to a praying family.
If you are standing with God and praying for the restoration of your marriage, you have found the keys to faith, hope, peace, and so much more. What better person to share it with, than your prodigal spouse? You can discover a friend in your mate.
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5
Unless otherwise noted, scripture quoted are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.