It's the mission the birds made famous. During our ministry trip to California, I had a chance to visit one of the most charming of those old Spanish missions, San Juan Capistrano. If you heard of it, it's because of the birds, the swallows. There are what seems like hundreds of swallows who like to hang out at that mission until about October 23rd every year then like a lot of northerners they fly south for the winter. Oh, but they will return. In fact, lots of local folk and tourists will be at the mission on March 19th, that's the day they will return. The time might vary a little but one thing you could be sure of when you see them leave, you can be sure they will be back.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Winter of Their Leaving, The Spring of Their Return."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke, chapter 7 right out of the life of Jesus. It says in verse 12, "As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out - the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw here, his heart went out to her and he said, 'Don't cry.' Then He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, 'Young man, I say to you, get up!' The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."
Here's a mother who was sure her son was gone until Jesus intervened. Then you have these tender words, "Jesus gave him back to his mother." Jesus is still doing that with sons and daughters who look as if they're gone - spiritually gone. Wandering from the Savior you love, the Savior you want your child to love. You might be listening right now with a heart that is literally aching for a son or daughter who is spiritually away. Their spiritual leaving has begun a season of winter in your heart, much like the winter that follows those San Juan Capistrano swallows. But don't give up on the spring of their return.
Maybe it seems hopeless right now, but don't underestimate the power of Savior to bring stray children home. Believe Jesus for the day when He will in a sense give you back that child that you prayed for so long. In the meantime, let the father and the prodigal son be your example. You know he didn't chase after that boy nagging him about why he shouldn't go. So many of us as parents make the mistake of expressing our deep concern by nagging and pushing our kids to be right with God, to stop making those unrighteous choices. But when you push on someone they end up farther from you. They need space to have the dignity to make this a personal choice not a surrender to your viewpoint; and like the father of the prodigal, always let your son or daughter know you love them unconditionally. And when sin lets them down, and it will, they will return to the place where they have been loved through it all.
We accomplish more by talking to God about our kids than about talking to our kids about God. Don't give up. Claim the promise of Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up". Your prayers focus all the powers of Almighty God on that son or daughter wherever they are no matter how far away.
And remember Jesus is a shepherd, he persistently and skillfully goes after that lost sheep you love and who He loves even more. In fact, at this very moment the Good Shepherd is pursuing your wandering loved one. You may not know the way to soften their heart, but He does. Trust that same God who brings those swallows back faithfully every year to one day bring the one you love back to Him, to you, and it will be spring again.