*Welcome today’s guest blogger, Betsy Bradshaw. I believe you will find much encouragement and hope as she shares her story with honesty and openness. She’s learned some valuable lessons and even found joy on the journey.
This has not been an easy journey for me these past few years. Our older son was making poor choices where we were serving as missionaries overseas, so we returned to the U.S. a year early for our furlough, to get him some counseling. When he continued abusing substances, we thought we might need to take him to live in a homeless shelter when he turned eighteen.
My husband and I decided that if he hadn’t stopped his substance abuse by his birthday, we wouldn’t allow him to live at home anymore.
But God answered our prayers, and today he is doing much better. It hasn’t been easy, though. He’s been through two rehab programs and three counselors. Except for two small slips, he’s been clean for almost a year.
Has he come to the Lord? No, not yet. But we pray for him daily and trust that in time, he will. My prayer has been from Psalm 119:107:
“I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again, just as You promised.”
I remember one Sunday morning at church when I fell apart. My heart was broken by my son’s poor choices. I had to leave. I couldn’t face anyone. I felt like I had totally failed as a parent.
“Lord,” I prayed, “You know that we raised our three kids the same way and two of them do love You. But what happened with my firstborn son?”
I felt God say, “Betsy, I love him more than you do. Give him to Me.”
And, so as I sobbed, I did.
The Lord has allowed me to share my story with many parents who have gone through, or are going through, a similar journey. Because of my willingness to be honest, they’ve opened up and shared their own heartbreak. I’ve been surprised to discover how many parents also have prodigal children. Pastor Rick Warren said, “Your greatest ministry could come out of your greatest pain.” I’ve definitely found that to be true. But I’m a missionary. I’m supposed to have perfect kids, right?
Our kids aren’t marionettes with us pulling the strings for their every move. Although sometimes I may try to do that, I know I don’t want puppets for children. God gave each of us free will and I chose to follow Him. I don’t want Him to force me to do something I don’t want to do, and of course He won’t. He won’t force our children, either.
My prayer life has grown stronger, too. Who else can I cry out to for help but the Lord? Now, most mornings my husband and I enjoy spending time in prayer together.
I’m also learning to choose to thank God in everything I go through; to find joy and blessings in the midst of trials; and to trust Him in all things. If I can, you can, too!
*Have you suffered much? If so, I pray that both you and your child will be restored again, as Psalm 119:107 (above) says. I pray your child will also stop their destructive behaviors and “come home”. I pray you will also be thankful, trust God in everything and find joy on your journey like Betsy has.
In His Almighty and All-Powerful Name. Amen.
** Betsy Bradshaw has served with Wycliffe Bible Translators since 1983, in Brazil for two years and in Papua New Guinea (PNG) since 1985, where she met her husband Rob. Betsy is a librarian at the Ukarumpa International School and Rob is a Bible translator for the Doromu-Koki people. The Bradshaws are currently residing near Cleveland, Ohio and have 3 children, all born in PNG. Rob, Betsy and their younger son will be returning to PNG for a three-year term in July 2014 and hope to soon complete the translation of the New Testament into Doromu-Koki.