It was 500 days after the dad gave up drinking that the prodigal daughter came home.
The father and the mother had prayed that she would leave the too-old boyfriend who despite his extra years was still a boy, would always be a boy. They prayed that she would return home. It took time.
Perhaps it had taken this long for her to see that she was like the prodigal.
Perhaps it had taken this long to change the dad to be more like the dad in Jesus’ story.
Behind the smiles of the dad when he told me the story was the pain of making changes in his life.
He did not go into much detail of what she had done. But he was open that his selfishness had made it easy for her to leave home and hard for her to return. He had not been a pleasant person to be around, the grog had seen to that. He had misconstrued an awful lot of what she had said. In this modern version of the story the dad had to come to his senses first and make things right.
There was of course no guarantees of a happy ending. I am writing this in the afterglow of the prodigals’ return but for the dad it had been a hard slog just doing what was right, because it was the right thing.
It took time but my guess is the prodigal daughter saw the changes in him, that the stretched out arms were for real this time, and that helped her come home. That, and the prayer.
It took three hours to make the list of hurts, slights and disappointments. Mum was there too, and they were able to see, finally, the other point of view. There was stuff to forgive, stuff to lay to rest, stuff to let go of. They wrote it all down, prayed it through and then burnt the list. It was her list but all of them were changed.
Was it like it had never been? Or was it like it had all been cleaned up and made new?
The next day she worked through some loose ends in her life that needed to be tied. It would have been a difficult day but joyful at the end.
This story and the prayers can’t end here. There’s other kids as well. And other families.
This has been a true story from a pew near you.