Although We Have Weedy Lives, God Loves Us — The Prodigal College Student

It was on a savagely cold winter day in the Midwest that Charles and Carlene learned that one of their sons, Doug, was missing from college.

“We got a letter from Doug in the mail. In it he said he didn’t have enough money to attend the next semester, so he was going to hitchhike to New York City,” said Charles. “What he didn’t know was on the dean’s desk was a letter granting him a full scholarship for the next semester.”

The letter went on to say that he was going to try to break into show business because many people had told him that he was handsome enough to be a Broadway star.

Said Carlene: “At that moment, I nearly died. I knew how cold it was outside and if he didn’t get a ride that he might freeze to death. I also knew that Doug was kinda naïve and that some pervert or murderer might pick him up. And he didn’t have much money. What was he going to eat? Where was he going to sleep?

“My emotions were torn in two ways: I was so angry at him for doing this lamebrain thing where he could get himself hurt or killed, and I wanted him in my arms where I could hold him and know that he was alright.”

Although Charles and Carlene notified the state police, for the next several weeks, the telephone was heartbreakingly silent. In seemed that Doug had just disappeared off the face of the earth. Carlene and Charles contemplated driving the highways to search for him.

“Our whole family and church were praying for his safety. Carlene and I barely slept at night for the horror of what could happen to him,” said Charles. “We could only put our fears in God’s hands and trust Him to look after our boy.”

The nagging concerns remained until one day out of the blue a postcard appeared. The canceled stamp read “Raleigh, South Carolina.”

“Too cold in New York,” said the card. “Takes a while to be a star. Headed south. Having fun. Love, Doug.”

“I laughed, then I cried,” said Carlene. “I was relieved to know he was alive but frightened to death that he was still hitchhiking.”

For the next several months, random cards appeared postmarked from various cities all over the South. The cards never gave very much information; just verified that Doug was apparently alive and well.

Then one Spring day came the knock on the door for which Charles and Carlene were waiting: They opened it and there stood Doug, tanned, taller, and a lot thinner.

“It was the classic Prodigal Son story. All the worry he put us through was forgiven and forgotten when we saw him.” said Charles. “While we didn’t kill the fatted calf, we did grill steaks.

“I gained a greater understanding of how much God the Father loves us. Although we’ve made a mess of our lives and caused our Heavenly Father pain, He still welcomes us with open arms when we return to Him.”

Uprooting Strangling Weeds and Thorns

Here’s the answers to some common questions about God’s love and forgiveness for us.


  1. There are billions of people in the world. Does God know and love me personally or is He only concerned about mankind as a group?
  2. He knows who you are. Psalm 139 says the God knows when you sit down or when you arise. He knows your thoughts and the words on your tongue. Even more amazing, before you were born, He planned everyday of your life (verses 15 and 16) before even one day transpired. He also knows you so intimately and loves you so completely that He knows exactly how many hairs you have on your head (Matthew 10:30) — a statistic that you probably don’t even care about.


  1. I’ve done some really bad things in my life. What do I have to do to get God to forgive me?
  2. Ask and repent. God is willing to forgive you if you ask Him. Then turn from your sins. That is what repenting means. God didn’t want to punish you for them, which is why His forgiveness is made possible when Jesus took the punishment for your sins.


  1. If God loves me, why does He permit bad things to happen to me?
  2. There is as many reasons as there are bad things that happen. Nor is there just one pat answer to why. One thing for sure: The God who loves you enough to send His Son to die for you is not going to cause you to pointlessly suffer. He allows bad things to happen for your ultimate good. Sometimes you will hurt so much that you’ll have a hard time believing that, but His word assures us that He disciplines those whom He loves.


  1. Why would a God of love sentence people to Hell to burn forever?
  2. Not because He wants to. It’s not God’s will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). It is because people separate themselves from God. In the end, He lets them have their own way and that is Hell. God’s love is the reason why final judgement has been withheld: He’s waiting, hoping, calling for more to come to Him.