Waiting on the Prodigal Spouse or Child You Love

Lynn and her husband had been married for 12 years when she started to realize there was something re­ally wrong with her marriage. She didn't suspect an affair at first because she couldn't believe her husband, a professing Christian, would violate his marriage vows. He was a doctor and often worked late, but one Christmas Eve, he didn't come home at all. That Christmas was the start of years of unfaithfulness, sepa­rations, and attempts at reconciliation. Lynn's husband would lie about his affairs, making it nearly impossible to tell when, if ever, his repentance was real. Lynn vividly recalls sitting with him at a coffee shop where he asked her to forgive him for his infidelity, all the while knowing his plan after leaving was to go and sleep with another woman.

Lynn prayed for her husband to repent. They went through hundreds of hours of counseling sessions. She could have divorced him early on, but her heart's desire was for their relationship to be restored and their family made whole. She didn’t just want him to stop having affairs and start living an upright life. She longed to know his heart. Bt he didn’t want to be known. Instead, he betrayed her again and again.

Parable of the Prodigal Spouse

The prodigal son isn't the only story of a prodigal in Scripture. The prophet Hosea's whole life was a parable of God’s love for the unfaithful people of Israel. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute. Hosea took her away from the men who had used her, gave her a home, and had children by her. Yet she didn’t stay with him, but instead ran away to her old life, the life he had rescued her from.

God wouldn't let Hosea let his wife go. He directed Hosea to go and buy her back. Only think of how painful it must have been for a husband whose wife has run away from his loving provision to have to purchase her from another man. But Hosea did it because God has done that for us. Though she had not loved him, he loved her.

Through Hosea’s story, God sent a powerful message to his people. Though they had served other gods and run away from his love, he wasn’t through with them. He loved them and would redeem them so they could return into the safety of his love: “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them” (Hos. 14:4).

If you’ve been forsaken by your spouse or your spouse has forsaken God, like Lynn, you know something of the pain Hosea experienced. And you know something of the pain God experiences each time one of his children forsakes his steadfast love for some fleeting pleasure the world can offer. He isn’t just looking for good behavior; he’s looking for intimacy.

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