Return of the Prodigal, Part One: When You’re Standing at the End of the Long Road Home

So excited to be featured today on Purposeful Faith!  If you want to read my story as well as other bloggers’ stories, click on the link here – You will be blessed!


It was the Wednesday after Labor Day. I remember it distinctly ­— a day not unlike so many others before. I was finishing up after a long day at work. It was late. As is my custom, I called my husband as I drove home to let him know I was on my way.

It was already dark. I was trying to concentrate on the road as I waited for him to pick up the phone. He didn’t say hello. He hesitated a moment, then simply stated, “You’ll never guess who’s here.” I knew immediately.

My stepson showed up on our doorstep after three years, three months and two days of being gone. These were not the years many parents spend excitedly watching their child go off to college or overseas with the military. No, these were years spent in agony. The separation had been a separation of choice, a distinct cutting off. Deliberate.

We had grieved for so long. We had picked up the pieces of our lives and had found peace, not the kind of peace that is ignorant of pain, but the kind of peace that has surrendered to the devastating helplessness of grief and has allowed it to wash over us as best it could. Healing.

My heart was quivering. We had prepared for this moment, prayed for this moment. But what now? What will I feel when I see him? What will I say?

They were on the back porch — a symbol of sorts. Not ready to invite him in. Not ready to be vulnerable. Not yet. Not for a long time really, for this wasn’t the first such encounter.

When I saw him, all I can say is that what I felt was pure joy. As we embraced, my heart leapt inside. Nothing else existed in that moment. After 3 years, three months, and two days, my child who was lost had been found, and that was all that mattered.

Wasn’t that how I came to God? Wasn’t He the one who was waiting for me, watching for me in the far-off distance when I wandered home in my ruinous pain?

Before there was a celebration, there was that moment. Before there was a conversation, there was that moment. Before there was an explanation, a repentance, a hope of restoration, there was that moment when I walked right up to Abba in my brokenness and pitiful rebellion, and we embraced. I can only imagine that for Him in that moment with me, all that mattered was that His child who was lost had now been found. I was found — in that moment. I was home.

In each of our lives there comes a time when we have to choose. Do we stay in the muck and mire of our pain? Do we continue on the road that has led us nowhere? Or do we recognize our inner devastation, our need, and make our way home, back to where we are loved and accepted and celebrated?

It is never too late to come home.

[bctt tweet=”We are never too lost to find our way home.”]

Home is where we will find peace with our Abba. Home is where we build the foundation for the rest of our lives. Home is where our journey begins.

The story for our family has not been finished. In fact, our journey has just begun. Yet for all the other things to come, all of the working-through that lies ahead, I would hate to miss that one moment. That one precious moment!

Tags: home, healing, lost, found, journey


  1. Hi Lisa,
    I really enjoyed what you wrote about the prodigal returning home. This says a lot about love, hope and encouragement…the kind of story that tugs on your heartstrings, especially if you have children that have moved far away. I know that feeling, all too well as both of my boys moved far away from home after high school and I never see them anymore.
    May God bless you and make His face to shine upon you.

    His daughter,

    • lisamurray

      July 13, 2015 at 9:03 AM

      So glad you enjoyed this post! It is so amazing the love that God showers upon us as we return to Him. Our love for our children is a small reflection of His merciful love toward us. Blessings to you, Jodee!

  2. What a story of truth and love. We are all broken, just trying to find our way home. Glad I found my way here and was blessed by your words today. much love, kim

    • lisamurray

      July 13, 2015 at 7:35 PM

      So glad to have you stop by today! We are all broken, our Abba is always waiting for us as we find our way home! Blessings to you!

  3. Carolyn Dale Newell

    July 13, 2015 at 9:34 PM

    Hi Lisa, I’ve been there. It was 8 years 1 month and two days. Rebuilding a relationship where trust has been broken is very hard. She lives in another state and I think that slows the process down. You wrote everything I felt. Hope things are better now a

    • lisamurray

      July 14, 2015 at 7:31 AM

      Wow! I can’t imagine 8 years! I thought 3 years was horrible. Trust is something that is tenuous, that grows over a long period of time. When you’ve been hurt so deeply, I don’t think trust comes back over night. God is good! He can redeem and restore beyond anything we can imagine! Blessings, friend!

  4. Your heart surely must have jumped for joy, Lisa. My did, and he’s not even my son! Thank you for sharing this story, for being honest and “putting it out there.” All too often the “uncomfortables” are kept tucked and hidden well away. But there are those that will walk through this in the real world and there are all of us that have or are walking it in the spiritual. Beautiful correlation, although I truly wish it were one no parent had to experience. (Wouldn’t it be great if it were heaven all the time? Someday…) Thankful for Jesus and His open arms today. Also enjoying having our blog excerpts connected yesterday on Purposeful Faith.

    • lisamurray

      July 14, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      So blessed to have you stop by! Yes, my heart jumped for joy!! Though it is hard to be vulnerable, I believe God uses the messes in our lives to help others on their journeys. Blessings to you today!

  5. Lisa, this is so beautiful! I, too, am praying for the return of a prodigal, but in this case, it’s my father we’re waiting for. That in-between time can be so hard, praying, hoping, watching, imagining what the coming home will look like. But I’m confident that God hasn’t finished writing the story yet, and He knows what the coming chapters will look like. So we wait in quiet expectation, and I rejoice with those whose prodigals have come home. Celebrating with you today! (Your neighbor at #raralinkup)

    • lisamurray

      July 15, 2015 at 8:00 AM

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! God has not finished writing the story with your family. He does know the future chapters. We simply continue to heal, pray, hope and watch for what is coming in the distance! Praying with you, friend!

  6. Lisa, what a story! Praying for you and your family and grateful for the truth you highlight here!

    Blessings from an #IntentionallyPursuing neighbor

    • lisamurray

      July 15, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      Always love to have you stop by! Thank you for your encouragement and prayers. Blessings, friend!

  7. Ginger Harrington

    July 15, 2015 at 11:02 AM

    Beautiful post about “that moment.” This line was an encouragement to me: “We had picked up the pieces of our lives and had found peace, not the kind of peace that is ignorant of pain, but the kind of peace that has surrendered to the devastating helplessness of grief and has allowed it to wash over us as best it could. ” So beautifully put. Thank you for sharing this moment with us.

    • lisamurray

      July 16, 2015 at 7:30 AM

      Thank you Ginger, for your kind words – I am so glad they encouraged you! Blessings to you!

  8. I was a prodigal and am now the mother of two prodigals. I wait. I pray. I hope. Just like my grandmother and mother did…for me.
    I always enjoy reading your posts. I’m in #69 spot at Holley’s today.

    • lisamurray

      July 16, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      I always enjoy having you stop by! Yes, we wait,we pray, we hope! We put our trust in God, and God never disappoints! Blessings to you today!

  9. We have had our prodigal who has returned and put his life back together and when people ask me what was it that brought Him back I really have no answer beside God. Because the walk to the pig pen takes time, it never happens over night and it starts without those who love them even knowing it has started.

    The walk back from the pig pen is the same way, there is a start, a small start, one step at a time and no one not even the prodigal even knows they have taken a step. Both are a process and it’s a killer of a process. Relationship are broken, hearts are broken, every little step from the first to the last breaks everything connected to them. But we know the Master fixer of brokenness.

    I pray with some women on Friday nights, each of us has adult children all in one stage or another of the process. Our son was the first we prayed for to return and in some ways I hated to share when I first started noticing a little step he was taking because theirs was still in the pig pen. Mine had gotten out and was still dripping with slop but still on his way back. Our son is no more special then any other, but God Son is and He is the only one who understands our prodigal. Not because He is one but because divine Holy love for them goes way beyond our parental love.

    We begged God to make our son miserable, he was , that made him harder to be around, but still I prayed, pour it on God, please. We loved on him with a tough love that meant we love you but hate your sinful lifestyle. But still it was none of these things that really brought Him around, it was God, working outside of us. Our boundaries were for us, not for our son, so we could love on him and not be approving of his sin.

    I will have to come back and spend a few hours reading all your post on this issue. There are so many parents who are suffering because of their prodigal, some cannot go one with life because of the burden. Your post would help them. Just today I met a lady in the park and her burden for her prodigal daughter spilled out of her onto someone she had never met before, me. I applauded her standing strong and not feeding her daughters sin. I applauded her for helping her two grandchildren because the mother is a mess. One has to pick the battle to spend your energy on with a prodigal and grand children are a battle worth fighting for.

    I applaud you for addressing this subject, it is so needed. Bless you.

    • lisamurray

      July 16, 2015 at 7:36 AM

      Thank you for sharing your journey. It is such a difficult process, but we can never change our children – only God can do that. You are right – our boundaries are for us, and they free our children to own responsibility for their choices,their actions. I will be posting in the next weeks, parts 2 and 3 of our story. Please stop back by! Blessings!

  10. Debbie Wilson

    July 16, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Lisa, what a precious story. I love how you focused on the moment and experienced joy! You gave us the picture of the angels in heaven rejoicing when a lost sinner returns home. Visiting from #livefree Thursday.

    • lisamurray

      July 17, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      Thank you so much for your kind words! What a sweet picture of the angels rejoicing – I think that’s exactly how I felt. Blessings!

  11. Crystal Storms

    July 16, 2015 at 11:53 AM

    “We are never too lost to find our way home.” Lisa, I love this truth. Praying now for those I know, that they make that choice to head home to the waiting arms of their Heavenly Father. I pray for your journey too, that God restore what once was lost and continue to heal your family. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )

    • lisamurray

      July 17, 2015 at 7:36 AM

      I always love having you stop by, Crystal! The truth is, no matter how lost, no matter how hopeless, no matter what, nothing is outside of the miraculous grasp of our God! There are so many in similar situations – my hope is that they would take heart and not lose sight of what God can do, even in the midst of their pain and sorrow. Blessings, friend!

  12. Hi Lisa- I enjoyed reading your post, and is also the first time I’ve seen your blog. I am so grateful for a savior that is always waiting on us to return when we get lost!!! Much love- Shannon

    • lisamurray

      July 17, 2015 at 7:37 AM

      So glad to have you visit! I, too, am grateful for a Savior that patiently waits for me to return home. Have a blessed weekend!

  13. (((Lisa))) Rejoicing in your good news today. Prayers that the Lord would continuing the healing process in all of your lives, and that you will all walk away from this experience stronger, closer, and with a deeper testimony of the goodness of God. Beautiful words, today. Thank you for sharing. Happy to be neighboring you at #DanceWithJesus today. ~ Blessings ~

  14. Trena Quesenberry

    July 18, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    Such a beautiful story, and so beautifully written. I’m so glad that when I have strayed from God, He accepts me back with open arms. Thank you for sharing!

    • lisamurray

      July 19, 2015 at 9:40 AM

      Thank you for your kind words, Trena! We are all so blessed to serve a God who is always patiently waiting for us, ready to welcome us back into His love! Blessings this weekend!

  15. I loved this! I never want to miss those moments either. Praying for complete restoration with your step son.

  16. I do love stories of God’s redemption at work, Lisa! Glad to find your blog and to read your continuing story!

    • lisamurray

      July 19, 2015 at 5:10 PM

      God’s stories of redemption are the words of our testimony that can never be stolen, that proclaim the unfailing love of Jesus Christ! His redeeming love is everywhere. Let’s continue to speak of His faithfulness! Blessings over you today, Beth!

  17. I loved this –>> Home is where we will find peace with our Abba. Home is where we build the foundation for the rest of our lives. Home is where our journey begins. << Encouraging words directly to my heart! Thanks for sharing this amazing post at Words of Comfort Link Up and for being part of this community!

    Blessings always!
    Tayrina from

    • lisamurray

      July 22, 2015 at 11:02 AM

      Always a joy to have you stop by! For me, home is the essence of everything – my peace, my joy, my hope for the journey. I’m so glad you were encouraged today. Blessings, friend.

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