Gifts can come in unexpected forms. Read on as Judy Douglass challenges us to unwrap and receive all of God's gifts.
On a Prodigal Journey: Open Your Gifts
By Judy Douglass
"I have a gift for you."
His voice was not audible, but it was clear. In the midst of my grieving for a miscarried baby, God assured me he had a gift for me: "I am sending you a son."
As years passed and the gift didn't come, I was content with my two daughters. When we were moving from California to Florida, I felt the nudge again: "When you get to Florida, I will give you your son."
And so it happened. A nine-year-old boy, removed from an addicted mother, came to us as a foster child and later adopted as our son. A gift from God.
The first years were challenging - he had many issues from the abandonment and neglect he had experienced and the effects of drugs and alcohol in utero. We were not prepared for his needs, but we learned and grew.
As he moved into his teen years, we also entered into many years of a prodigal journey through the wilderness. Trouble at school, a series of cars, girls, drugs, alcohol, a gang, juvenile detention, jail.
We turned to prayer. He met Jesus. Things improved, then he crashed. We grew desperate - nothing worked. Tears flowed. We prayed more.
I argued with God: "This is a gift? This boy is a gift?"
"He is a gift."
"Then," I said, "it is a grievous gift."
But our God is gentle and kind, full of mercy and grace. And slowly he opened my eyes, my heart, my mind to see the gifts he was giving me. I was reminded over and over of the transforming truths that I was learning on that path. And am still learning. These truths are gifts!
I was reminded that our God loves mercy: "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5) I have received mercy over and over, and I have learned to give and ask for forgiveness.
I repeatedly experienced God's amazing grace: Grace freely offered to me and to my loved one by God himself. Grace that covered and filled me and flowed through me to our son and to many others. That grace is a gift. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I was ushered into to a new depth of prayer, to crying out to God, to falling to my knees. I once again found myself praying without ceasing - in constant conversation with our God. What a gift and a blessing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
And oh, the love. To grasp how much God loves me and is willing to love my prodigal through me. And it has been an extraordinary gift to realize that unconditional love is just that - unconditional, requiring nothing in return. (1 John 4:19)
And surrender. I am a stubborn, strong-willed person. As is my wanderer. Just as he has had to learn to surrender his way to God's so much better way, so have I. Am I willing to fully entrust my life to my Lord?
Do you see it!? The gift my prodigal has been and continues to be. God has done amazing work in me as a gift from my son.
I am grateful I have been willing to receive and open these wonderful gifts from God through my prodigal. I hope you will find a way to do the same with the gifts from God that you struggle to receive fully into your own life.
These are truly transforming gifts that keep on giving.
Thank You, Lord.
Judy Douglass is a writer, speaker, encourager, advocate. Her most recent book is When You Love a Prodigal. She loves to encourage God's children - especially his daughters - to be and do all God created them for. She partners with her husband, Steve, to lead Cru/Campus Crusade for Christ globally, is the author of six books and speaks all over the world. Known for her "realness," Judy writes at www.judydouglass.com. You can find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @judydouglass417. She has three children and nine grandchildren.