A Prodigal Hike

I've been a Christian for over 30 years. I wasn't born into a Christian home, but brought up in a dysfunctional foster family, with a couple who weren't married to one another. My foster mother was only 17 when she was forced to take me into her charge. Though she tried her best to take care of me, being a child herself, uneducated, orphaned and abused, she wasn't at all a role model for my growing up years, still, over here I would like to give her credit for having cared for me as well as she could.

I knew no peace while growing up. My foster mum had a foul temper (she has changed after receiving Christ 11 years ago), and my foster dad had another family with 7 children. There were 7 to 8 idols in our house and I could feel the spiritual warfare happening everyday, nightmares, bad dreams and totally unharmonious relationships. My foster parents were hostile to each other and after every episode of quarrel my mum would direct her anger and hurt towards me.

In school I lacked confidence as I was weak in studies, especially in English. Teachers never paid any attention to me. I felt transparent and made only a few friends. My childhood years were spent in loneliness, day-dreams, sadness and anxieties.

The pressures at home mounted when my foster dad cohabited with a 3rd woman and fathered an illegitimate child with her. He was then supporting 3 families, 3 disharmonious families. How did he, being a man of little education found such wealth to support 3 families? He did so by running a syndicate which collected illegal gambling bets. Despite his flaws, I'm grateful to him for raising me, and being very kind to me. He supported my education all the way to the University (while none of his own made it), got me a car (where 7 of his own kids shared one) and walked me down the aisle when I got married in Church (though he wasn't a believer). Tension ran high at his funeral when all 3 'wives' met. Those were bad memories which I've no intention to remember really.

In my twenties, God blessed me with a very good spouse, a gentle loving and patient man. Together we build a Christian home and have 2 sons. Through the early years of building a family, I've had to deal with various baggages and issues in my heart and God dealt with them one by one. I tried not to repeat the mistakes of my mum, but I did nevertheless because of my temper (which I have no idea whether it was a natural trait or a learned one). But I beseech God to change me and He did, I have my temper under control after 7 years of conscious struggle. I love my sons and brought them up to the best of my knowledge and in prayers. The Bible teaches to bring up a child in God's ways and when he is grown he will not depart from it. I believed and claimed this.

Although I've tried my best, being human, I know I have not been a perfect mum. But I love my children and there's no shadow of doubts about it. My spouse and I lived our lives with our children as our main concern. Much of my adult life was spent nurturing them and their needs and I've no energy left to build a career. I took on ad-hoc temporal part-time jobs now and then to fit them into my family schedules.

Thanks be to God that our sons grow up to be balanced individuals, having a healthy sense of self-esteem and confidence, excelling in their studies (having better academic results then their parents) and to top it all, they're faithful followers of Christ. I am so proud of them, not being prideful but being glad and relieved!

Into my 50s, I felt God's calling to witness to my colleagues who are foreigners and heeded God's call. I left my comfort zone, humbled myself and poured myself as sacrificial libation upon the altar in order to reach out to these unsaved souls, souls whom God loves and whom Christ died for. Out of 3 people, 2 were saved, thanks be to God. While serving those 2, I was often hurt in the process. Serving God is entering into the battlefield and we can be hurt in the process. I'm not perfect and I find myself grumbling at times, I wish I hadn't but I did. However, despite my failings in this, I have no regrets for the trouble taken to present them to Christ.

While I was happy and contented with my life so far, something bad happened and caused me much pain...

What pain me most now is that after my diligent and whole-hearted service to God, satan has infiltrated into our family and attacked one of our family members, causing serious doubts and unbelief in him. As a family, we could only advise that member to hold on to what's remnant of faith he has left with and not give up fighting for his faith. I've beseiged God to rescue this family member and entrust his soul to a faithful Creator. However he has his freewill and if he finally choose to undertake this prodigal journey and squander away his spiritual inheritance, I pray that like the prodigal son, he will still wake up to his senses and have the spiritual discernment to humbly return to his Heavenly Father one day. Somehow, deep inside me, I feel or I hope that like Job, God allows this prodigal trip to happen only because after he is tested, he will return stronger to guide others in the same dilemma; living your own life or submitting to a loving omni-potent, omni-science, omni-present God who knows us personally. I hope and I pine for this outcome.

This recent incident has awaken me to these truths:
  1. That we must always guard our hearts for out of it flows the issues of life; LIFE - the physical and eternal!
  2. That even as we minister to others and have God's stamp of approval and blessings in our ministries, we must always keep watch over our own family because the devil will try to distract us.
  3. That we should never take our faith for granted, we have to be serious with God. Don't try to be a Christian, live as one!
  4. That none of us is ever strong enough to stand on our own, we need God's people and there is nothing wrong with that. A baby needs his parents, a man his spouse and we all grow up in families, so it is in our spiritual lives, we need God's family.
  5. That we need to choose our friends wisely. You can have unbelieving friends, but be careful of developing strong binding relationships with those who'll draw you away.
  6. New experiences and knowledge are fine but as the Bible admonishes, we should always be alert to the wiles of the devil for he can confuse God's children with puff-up knowledge that brings confusion, dissension instead of peace.

At the end of the day, we have to decide whom to follow? Choose this day your 'god', is it God, Jehovah Jireh our Provider, or the world? It does not matter how we begin with God, it matters how we end. Life is a sum of all choices.

Despite the pain and sadness I'm experiencing now, I will not give up ministering to others whenever I'm in the position to do so. I will not be intimidated because God will win finally. God is sovereign. I shall continue to trust God for His goodness and mercy, and my family, yes my family, each and everyone in my family shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

God who had rescued me when I was sold away in infancy, God who had safe-guarded me during those unhappy days in my dysfunctional foster home, God who gave me a wonderful spouse, who blessed us with two lovely sons, this God will not fail me now or in the future, He will keep us in Him for eternity. In tears I plead...


Lynn said...

Wow. What a testimony you have! God is good.

I have a family member that I lift up every day and ask that godly people be placed in his path each day. My duty is to pray for him and to lead a faithful and godly life as an example. It is the hardest thing in this world to take a step back.

For the record, I wandered in the wilderness for years before I returned. I came to the conclusion that once the Lord has you, He doesn't let go. Praise God.

MTJ said...

Hi Jane,

I am moved beyond words by the expressions of love and compassion from your heart for a family member. God is faithful and true; on this we can rely.

Thank you for sharing your life, some of the obstacles you've had to face, and how the grace and love of God guide you.

As you said, "...we should never take our faith for granted...Don't try to be a Christian, live as one!"

Have a wonderful weekend, you and your family are in my prayers; always.

Blessings and peace.


RCUBEs said...

It is a mixture of joy and sadness yet what a beautiful testimony of His faithful love and grace. And may the Lord draw your loved one close to Him and give a way out that only leads back to Him. May the Lord continue to guide you, give you discernment and protect you. We are all in this unseen battle but thanks be to God for His mighty weapons. God bless.

Jane said...

Lynn, "... once the Lord has you, He doesn't let go",

MTJ, "God is faithful and true; on this we can rely",

RCubes, "may the Lord draw your loved one close to Him and give a way out that only leads back to Him",

Thanks for all your encouragement, I cling onto the hope that we can rely on God's faithfulness because He doesn't let go and will make a way that'll lead him back to Him. Only it pains me so much that I wonder will life be ever the same hereafter, still wish that it has never happened, but this is life, anything can happen, yes I will continue to walk by faith, brother and sisters in Christ, thank you for your love. :)