Finding the Light at the End of the Prodigal Path
“So many families suffer in silence when their loved ones go down prodigal paths, and we want them to know they are not alone. God truly offers hope when it seems like none can be found,” James Banks said.
James Banks is the author of Hope Lies Ahead, which he co-wrote with his son Geoff. Releasing this month, Hope Lies Ahead shares the story of Geoff’s prodigal journey down the road of drug addiction and James’s perspective as his father.
“Geoff and I could only write this book because of God’s kindness to us,” James shares. “Like the father in the parable of the prodigal, ‘My son was lost and now is found,’ and I’m still celebrating. The most difficult thing was realizing there were times I could have loved more, instead of simply trying to ‘fix things’ in my own strength.”
From Geoff’s perspective as the prodigal son, he often resented his father’s tactics, but ultimately saw the motive behind them.
“At times I [was] pretty hard on my father for some of the things he did,” Geoff admits. “The thing that I want to remind the reader of is that even when he made mistakes, it was done out of love. He wasn’t the religious Bible thumper I sometimes make him out to be but rather was driven by a deep love for his kids that sometimes got expressed in the wrong way. I think that his perspective is so unique because now he recognizes those moments for what they are and is able to help other people not fall in those same traps. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my parents, and this experience ended up sharpening all of us.”
If you are the parent of a prodigal, perhaps you can relate to wanting to help your children, but not knowing how. Through his own experience, James learned things about God and how He sees His children, which encouraged him in his relationship with his wayward son.
“God never gives up on us. He goes to lengths that defy reason to save us and love us back to Himself,” James explains. “Even when our children make choices that break our hearts, God doesn’t abandon them. He loves our prodigals even more than we do.”
James encourages parents to “keep loving, keep praying, and keep the lines of communication open.” According to James, “God can empower us in love beyond what we think is possible and give us the wisdom and direction we need to face each day.
“Jesus is still ‘a friend of sinners.’ No one is beyond God’s reach,” he adds. “When answers to prayer are long in coming, He Himself is the best answer. In the rough and raw places where we feel numb or nothing at all, God is able to meet us with help and healing as we cast our cares on Him.”
And as a wayward child who struggled with drug addiction, Geoff offers advice to parents with children trapped in their own addictions, echoing the words of his father.
“Above all else, maintain relationship,” Geoff says. “Let them know you love them even when they make huge mistakes. Let them know that if they ever want help, you are right there waiting. Make sure they are aware of their options as far as treatment goes; and when the opportunity arises to get them there, jump on it. Do it immediately. Don’t wait. I think we often find ourselves wanting to preach. Addiction can be an infuriating disease to experience, whether you are the one who is addicted or a family member is. In the midst of that anger and frustration, we need to be reminded that our battle is not against flesh and blood. Your war isn’t with that person, it is with the sin that is dominating their life. Don’t exchange your relationship with them for an off-handed comment or a sermon about their behavior. It isn’t worth it.”
Hope Lies Ahead is proof that God can redeem any situation that seems hopeless.
“Geoff is so much more than his past sins and mistakes,” James says. “He is a new creation, made stronger in the broken places by God’s amazing love. Today God uses him to reach people in ways that would not have been possible had he not been down such difficult roads. God wastes nothing—redemption is a precious, priceless thing.”
“I believe that ultimate redemption looks like Jesus on the cross,” Geoff concludes. “It is when something meant for evil gets turned around and used for good. There is nothing more beautiful than a giant struggle becoming an incredible strength.”
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