About the Author

Deidra is a national speaker and the author of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are, and One: Unity in a Divided World. Follow Deidra on Instagram @deidrariggs

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  1. Deidra,
    Your earlier post resonated with my heart and experience the first time and does once again this morning. I’ve wrestled with this topic for quite some time now – first, in ministry to teens as I work in the public school and then up close and personal in our family. I have believed that God was preparing the next generation in a different way to prepare them for all that is ahead. So much more than religion….a passionate, sold-out, and sometimes messy-looking faith. It’s hard to get out of the Christian, church-going box and have faith in what we can’t see for these youth, our youth, but I continue to believe and hope with all my heart for this new “army” of believers to be set free to proclaim His truth and create a way for so many others that the church has not reached (or wanted to reach). I don’t know if I’ve made any sense….it’s deep in my heart and my passions to see so many of the young people God has shared with me to be totally and completely sold out to Jesus. Not to ever box them in with what I think it should look like. This will be forever by my prayer. Thank you for sharing this once again.

  2. These words are beyond timely for me. My teenage son is testing out his wings and I know he is going to fly very soon. Happy and fearful, as we mothers tend to be, this post was exactly what my needed to hear in this moment. Thank you so much for blessing us once again with your beautiful words and wisdom. 🙂

  3. diedre, this is beautiful! thanks so much. learning to be a prodigal in the way GOD is, with grace…what a wonderful concept:) i’m very familiar with kellar’s book, but that concept is just too foreign isn’t it?

    i’m learning that i’m much more prone to give advice to my friends with prodigal children instead of praying with and for them…both in person and away from them.

    and encouraging them to just love them and lavish grace on them? allowing GOD to do His work? so powerful! thanks:)

  4. Our retired pastor gave me a book called The Meaning of Faith by Harry Emerson Fosdick, published in 1917! It has been such an eye-opener for me. He talks about young people leaving the church and rejecting their parents’ faith as a developmentally normal thing. When they are children, they accept everything that we say on faith (well, maybe not everything!). But, then, just like they give up Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, they give up their childish images of God. This doesn’t mean that they won’t continue to struggle to develop a more mature faith. They may leave a church that doesn’t meet their needs, but may eventually find one that does. So what some of our grown children are going through is a normal part of becoming an adult. That helped me to relax about it.

  5. Well, to trust God in HIS time. It’s hard as we view everything from our lives which are so small compared to an awesome God. HE promises that God will bless our children and HE will as HE has promised. Though they may walk in a wayward manner, God sees the bigger picture. The SEED of Christ is in them and I believe they will return to their Father who is in heaven. God promises that none can be snatched from HIS hand. We just have to have faith and believe that God who is more than able to do all things can do this one thing for each and every child we have. Amen.

  6. You always have such a fresh perspective Deidra! I love it. As a mama of 2 daughters who have not only strayed, but jumped with both feet into the enemy’s camp, I have used the term “prodigal” with them. But using that term (which as you said, means: to squander lavishly) doesn’t mean I’m labeling them OR have any less belief that God is working to bring them back.
    I’ve caught a fair amount of flack for referring to them as prodigals. The Bible refers to the son in the story as a prodigal. The beauty of the story to me is not what the son is doing, but what the father is doing…looking, waiting, and watching every day for his son to come home.
    I live and breathe and move among women who have their heads hung low in shame, embarrassment, and fear because of their children’s choices. They are burdened with secrecy. They live in fear that the church will judge THEM as parents for the sins of their children. These are women with adult children in prison. Some {too many} are learning what it means to love without boundaries, both their adult child and their same-sex-partner. I rub elbows with mamas whose adult children are addicted to all manner of things {and people}. And yes, the church should be the FIRST and SAFEST place to run to…to gain support and prayer, hugs and encouragement. But often, it is not.

    I don’t think of using the word prodigal as a label, but a place. A city, a pig sty, a place of wandering, the enemy’s campground. Heaven knows, (we) mamas don’t need to be judged if we use that term for our children on top of the judgement that is already heaped on us.

    Instead of quibbling over what the term “prodigal” means, we should be RUNNING to throw our arms around the parents who find themselves smack in the middle of that story!

    Oh, and Deidra…sorry…just give me a soapbox. I love you girl. Totally NOT saying the above applies to you. It’s just this.today. I’m raging mad at the enemy.

    • I hear you, friend.

      Bottom line? Let’s all be a safe place for each other. For our children. In the church, and the Church, and the world.

    • Caryn –

      So well said! I can’t agree with you more. As my almost-18 year old has struggled for several years in ways that you mention above, we experienced a complete failure of our church to support us and him. We were a family VERY involved in our church, including my son, and as he started making some bad choices, people in the church dropped him like a hot potato. He has seen clearly the hypocrisy of some Christians, and firmly turned away. I am trusting in God to show him the way back. I am thankful that my husband and I have a firm faith in the Lord’s plan in all of this, but my heart breaks for those Mamas that don’t have that faith. How many people have we pushed away from Jesus because we didn’t show love and compassion and instead showed silence, judgement and condemnation?

      Thank you Diedre for your very insightful, inspiring words.

  7. Deidra, I just can’t take you!! You are way too awesome for this Earth. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, grace and heart here in this post. Beautifully worded…clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit. Thank you as always for making me think….making me cry (sitting here at my desk doing so right now)…and making me breathe easier. You’re the best.

  8. Hi Deidre,

    This post resonated with me just as much as the first. When you published the definition of prodigal, it jogged my memory and I’d like to share a resource that I discovered a few years ago. To be more accurate, Jesus in His mercy led me to this resource and deeply, deeply touched my heart in understanding the Heart of God toward the lost. (BTW, according to the parable of the prodigal and the shepherd, the lost coin, Jordan is not lost nor is he a definition of a prodigal. By going back to the resources just now, I rediscovered the richness of this truth that I had forgotten.)

    The Lord directed me to the parable of the prodigal as one of the promises he gave me for my daughter. I as part of my nature need to understand and dig to understand. I did a google search and Jesus directed me to eProdigal.

    eProdigal is a site based on the teachings of Kenneth Bailey who was raised in the Middle East (Egypt) and then after that chose to live in the Middle East for 40 years. He lived in several places including Israel. He teaches the Prodigal Son parable according the understanding of the middle Eastern culture and the way Jesus’ listeners would have understood what Jesus was saying. The story is much different from this explanation than our understanding in the West.

    Christainity Today also has an article written by Kenneth Bailey from 1998 on the Prodigal Son. The article is a long read but quicker than the eProdigal site. I came away with so much hope and encouragement from this reading and the portrayal of over the top extravagant love the father has for our children who are lost or have walked away. This talks of the risk, the humiliation, and the pursuance the Father gives those He is pursuing. Really what He still does for all of us. I just read the Christianity Today article again just now and am encouraged all over again to trust the Father in this extravagant pursuing and to offer this extravagant love, this grace. It made me cry to see that sort of love, and spurs on action…..

    These resources fleshes out what Jesus meant and what Deidre wrote, and what Caryn Christensen talks of these mamas, me being one of them.

    This is so timely once again, and I thank you for listening to the pulse of our Father God. I needed this again today and our Father is right on time.

    Blessings to you Deidre and to the other commentators, you are each appreciated.

    Joanne

  9. I, believe, each one of us at some point in life have been “prodigals” and left the church for a while. It can be part of a learning and growing experience.

    It could also be that the youth of today don’t like the “strict, rigid” church services. They may want to worship in a different way. I find that many just want the newer contemporary Christian music, with various instruments and sermons relating to everyday life.

  10. I love the heart of your message! I do.

    But when defining words, let’s not forget the definition of reckless – “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.”

    What God did in for us – all of it – sending his son and the whole nine yards was certainly expensive and extravagant…and I get the intention. But He did it all intentionally, knowing all the consequences that would ensue…the bad and the good and the miraculously amazing good!

  11. Thank you for your post. I have 4 adult children and each expresses their faith in ways I didn’t imagine they would. Being a children’s pastor I expected them to go to the same church we did, serve like we did, participate in group activities just like we did.

    They are all great kids and they are all responsible adults. I might not agree with each their journeys but when I question them about their faith, they still tell me that He is still in their lives each day.

    And yes, they still teach me about faith each and every day……

  12. Wow! Awesome shift in perspective on prodigal! I will be tucking this away for when the time comes for me to remember this imperative perspective: don’t label our children….or anyone! All are loved by God…even those who challenge Him.

  13. Love this painting, and the many meanings it reveals… i wrote a blog post about it…

    Henri Nouwen, the famous author, once gave a postcard print of this painting to individuals who had come to hear him speak.

    He asked them to look at the hands of father–one hand masculine and strong, and the other hand feminine and gentle.

    What a wonderful way to illustrate the unconditional love God has for all of us prodigals, full of grace and truth.

    In what ways does this painting speak to you?
    http://bethwillismiller.blogspot.com/2011/09/rembrandts-return-of-prodigal.html