In Lk 15:27, when the elder brother inquired about the music and dancing at his father’s house, the servant said, “Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.” Any of us who have children who have strayed from God desire the day when we can receive them safe and sound.
However, the kids can’t be safe and sound with you until they have done four things. Like the prodigal son, to be safe and sound, your child must:
Come to himself – Lk 15:17 – no child is going to get right with God until he has this moment. You’re not going to preach him into it or love him into it. It’s not that preaching and loving are wrong or that you shouldn’t do these. But until he has his “come to himself” moment, he is not going to change. This boy had to go to the far country and lose everything he had before he came to himself. Some get to the place where this boy got and never come to themselves. Yet, you must let them get there.
Repent to God – Lk 15:18 – the prodigal son understood the right order. He said, “I have sinned against heaven.” There is no reconciliation for sin without facing God with with your sin. God has to give sinners “repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,” 2 Tim 2:25. After that, they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil.
Repent to you – Lk 15:19-21 – the prodigal son confessed that he had sinned against heaven and then he confessed that he had sinned “in thy sight.” He said to his father, I “am no more worthy to be called thy son.” What he said is the result of real repentance. Most kids have so traumatized their parents with their sin, they have no idea how badly they have hurt them. To just come in and say, “I’m home,” as if their parents should joy and celebrate, is a sure sign that the kids don’t get it and they haven’t fully repented.
Be alive again – Lk 15:24 – The father said, “this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” When a kid shows up after a detour into sin, you better be absolutely sure that he’s saved. We remember back when they were children and hang our hats on their little prayer that they prayed when they supposedly got saved. You’d better not rely on that. Miranda’s testimony is that her little prayer in pastor’s office didn’t cut it. She wasn’t saved until she was at youth camp may years later.
Conclusion: When your child comes to himself, repents to God, and repents to you, and you’re sure that he’s alive again, only then can you receive him safe and sound. If you think your children are safe and sound before these things happen, you’re wrong. You might be giving them refuge, but they aren’t safe and sound. You’re just harboring dead men. When Adam and Eve sinned, God kicked them out of the garden so they couldn’t eat the tree of life and live in there for ever. You’re enabling your children to live as dead men under your roof, because you think you’re keeping them safe.