Fruitfulness, And Encouragement From Ruth Graham on Parenting a Prodigal

The manifestation or evidence of salvation is fruitfulness (not the means towards it).

Eph 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The key to fruitfulness is abiding in Jesus. The good works will be an overflow of that abiding relationship with Him.

John 15:4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

We might also be called to bear fruit in physical children or spiritual children to raise in the ways of the Lord.

2 Tim 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

We plant the seeds, God is the one who will make it grow.
1 Cor 3:6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.

An encouragement to mothers of physical or spiritual children in a bit of a rebellious phase… Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham was interviewed by Moira Brown about the season when her two sons were “wandering from the narrow way” in part rebellion and part trying to seek their own identity. Franklin Graham in particular was a bit of a prodigal for eight to nine years. “It seems like eternity to a mother, whether it’s five years or thirty five years,” Ruth Graham says.

“I spent my time praying for them. A tremendous load was lifted off my shoulders when I realized God has problems with His children, too (which includes all of us). I know prodigals (who are) middle-aged women, pastors, a man of 75 years. They are not limited to teenage boys. Just rely on the faithfulness of God. We, mothers, are to take care of the possible and trust God for the impossible. The possible takes care of feeding, encouraging them, taking care of their needs, being a good mother. The impossible is conviction of sin, creating a hunger and thirst after righteousness, and conversion. Here I was trying to do all three of those when it dawned on me, ‘Hey, these are miracles. And miracles are not in my department.’ Trust God for the impossible and take care of the possible.”

Asked if she could do parenting all over again what would she do differently, Ruth Bell Graham’s answer was “I would leave more to the Holy Spirit”. She says, “Pray, claim the promises of God and realize that He’s going to answer. Problem was, I wanted Him to answer my prayers yesterday and it’s hard to be patient sometimes. I’m sure all of us mothers feel the same way. I have to ask God to please overcome my mistakes and complement my shortcomings and trust that He would do just that. I would ask for grace to follow and obey. In John 17, our Lord’s last prayer before His crucifixion, when I got to Verse 19, it stopped me cold.‘for their sakes I sanctify myself.‘ That was our Lord praying. Suddenly it dawned on me for our sakes, the Lord felt the need to sanctify Himself, to set apart Himself. How much more that I, as a mother, need to do that…so I put the boys on hold and I said, ‘Lord, You take care of them. We’ve got business to do.’ I settled things with Him that night. I think we mothers need to do that.”

In her book, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait , Ruth Bell Graham says that while God was working on the prodigal, God was very much working on the mother (herself). “I needed a lot of correction. I still do. The Lord Jesus has a way of telling you your faults and your mistakes, your shortcomings without ever discouraging you…when a person seems at his worst, that’s when Jesus loves them most.” In dealing with a child, she asks “How did God deal with me? It’s with mercy and with judgment. Mercy endures forever. We need to be more accepting of children. Our love needs to be unconditional. And love that never ends and fails. And they’ve got to know that we love them that way. All the promises of God are on your side. God may not answer your prayers as quickly as you want or in the way you want but You’ve got all His promises on your side.”

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