What do you do when someone you love leaves? And how do you pursue someone who has hurt you, who has sinned against you? In Letting Go, pastors Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert share stories of pain and stories of hope as they reveal how to care for the prodigal who has strayed. Whether you are dealing with an unfaithful marriage partner, a rebellious child, or a wayward friend, the counsel they offer will help you to pursue a gospel-rooted approach, grounded in truth and practiced in the midst of Christian community.
While each situation is unique, most stories deal with common themes of shame, guilt, confusion, uncertainty, and struggle. You will understand the spiritual dynamics at work in the heart of the prodigal and how you as a family member, spouse, friend, or church leader can best relate to them in love. You will learn how to practice “redemptive release” through confrontation and discipline as well as how to forgive the person who has hurt you through a process of reconciliation. For those in a time of waiting and wondering if their loved one will ever return home, there is a reminder of the hope of the gospel and the necessity of depending upon the Holy Spirit through prayer.
A must-have resource for every believer struggling to love the prodigal back home again, it is ideal for parents and siblings, counselors, pastors, and those ministering to hurting families and churches.
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About the Author
Dave Harvey serves as the Pastor of Preaching at Four Oaks Community Church in Tallahassee, Florida and is the bestselling author of When Sinners Say “I Do.” A pastor for over 25 years, Dave has been involved in church care, church planting, and international ministry. He also serves as the board chairman of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation and the Sojourn Church Planting Network and lives in Tallahassee, Florida with his wife, Kimm.
Paul Gilbert is the Lead Pastor of Four Oaks Community Church. Paul received has an MDiv and an MA from Reformed Theological Seminary in Marriage and Family Therapy as well as a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family from Florida State University. He has studied extensively on the subject of forgiveness and family systems. Paul currently serves on the board of Am I Called Ministries and lives in Tallahassee, FL with his wife, Susan, and their four children.
Table of ContentsIntroduction: Two Pastors and Their Burden
Section One: Portrait of a Prodigal
Chapter One: Three Prodigal Profiles
Chapter Two: What a Prodigal Wants, Where a Prodigal Lives
Section Two: Helping Prodigals
Chapter Three: How God Changes Prodigals
Chapter Four: What’s Love Got to Do With This?
Chapter Five: Walking the Prodigal Road
Section Three: Caring for the Unintended Casualties
Chapter Six: Prodigal Debris: Shame, Fear and Gospel Grace
Chapter Seven: Faith for Prodigals: What to Do While You Wait
Epilogue: The Holy Spirit, Prayer, and Prodigals
What People are Saying About This
One of the most difficult decisions any Christian spouse or parent has to make is when to say, “Enough! Our love isn’t helping you. It’s time that you felt the weight of your choices.” Guilt, shame, anger, responsibility and blame get mixed together in a confusing and poisonous brew…parents disagree, friends offer unasked for opinions and all the time you’re struggling to answer the one question that’s above all else: What is the most loving thing I can do for my beloved prodigal? In their extraordinarily helpful book pastors and counselors Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert offer practical help for parents, spouses and friends who have found themselves in the unenviable position of loving someone who has completely gone off the rails. They will walk with you as you consider your options and help you process your decisions. But most importantly, they will point you to Christ. I’m really thankful for this book…and you will be too. -- Elyse Fitzpatrick, Co-Author of “Give them Grace”
If you've suffered the unreturned love of a prodigal child or spouse, this book is for you. I commend Dave and Paul for writing so insightfully and sympathetically---with biblical conviction---on this complex and controversial topic. Their counsel would be wisely heeded, so that we might learn to love our prodigals in a way that directs them toward the Father's open arms. -- Collin Hansen, editorial director of The Gospel Coalition
All hell breaking loose at home is not an ‘if’, but a ‘when’. You will be crying out for counsel and comfort and Letting Go is crisis theology at its best. Harvey and Gilbert bring clarity to the confusion, Spirit-driven comfort to the chaos, and wisdom for loving your prodigal spouse, sibling, friend or child. -- Daniel Montgomery, Lead Pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY
It’s always an honor to be asked to endorse a new book by authors I respect, but this time it’s a privilege. I need “Letting Go”---I need the wisdom, and gospel rhythms, my brothers have poured into all 175 pages of their timely tome. Sometimes loving well involves showing “wayward souls” the door, entrusting them to the God who raises the dead. Dave and Paul, thanks for reminding me that none of us is called to be the 4th member of the Trinity. -- Scotty Smith, Teacher in Residence – West End Community Church – Nashville, TN
Do you know the excruciating pain of loving a prodigal? You are in good company: so does God. Billons of us. It is the story arc of the Bible. How should you love your prodigal? Read this book. Harvey’s and Gilbert’s wise biblical counsel is rich in compassion, sympathy, and perhaps best of all, empathy. They will point you to hope. -- Jon Bloom, Co-founder and Chair of Desiring God; author of Not By Sight and Don't Follow Your Heart
Jesus calls us as born again children of God to love our enemies. As difficult as that is, in some cases loving a prodigal is even harder. Someone who was close now is distant. Intimacy disintegrates into apathy, or perhaps even hostility. The prodigal shows no interest in reconciliation. The burden becomes heavier and heavier, slowly grinding down your heart and your faith. Endurance weakens into exhaustion. Prayers go unanswered. Hope fades.
Is this you? If so, maybe it’s time to let the prodigal go. In this book, seasoned pastors Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert will help you with the decisions involved in whether, when, and how to let go. -- Don Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spiritual and Associate Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
When we are faced with letting go of a wayward spouse or child we need the wisest of companions to comfort, guide and even challenge us. Dave and Paul are those companions. They give no trite formulas or one-size-fits-all. Instead, they remind us of God’s intimate familiarity with our troubles and how he says more than we might think. Expect them to lead you into humble confidence and resilient hope. -- Ed Welch Ph.D., Faculty and Counselor, CCEF
This compassionate and wise book gives voice to the disorienting shame, bitterness, weariness, and fear when foraging for love amid the brutal relational conditions of a prodigal world. Like a kind and sturdy friend who’s walked in our shoes, it gives us room to vent, grace to be understood, counsel to get through the next hour, the next day. Most of all, Rugged Love recovers us to the healing sanity and unshakeable provision of Jesus. A superb help for our work of pastoral care. A sage companion for our human wrestling with love. -- Zack Eswine, Author of Spurgeon’s Sorrows; Pastor of Riverside Church, Webster Groves, Missouri
With biblical wisdom and pastoral gentleness, Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert have crafted an excellent help for those facing the unique challenge of giving grace to those who spurn it. I am grateful for this important book. Letting Go does wonderful justice to the complexity and the versatility of true Christian love. -- Jared C. Wilson, Director of Content Strategy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Few realities are more painful than watching a cherished loved one make rebellious decisions that will lead to their destruction. As a pastor and counselor I have walked with countless parents, spouses, siblings, and friends agonizing with them over how to love someone who refuses to take help. Letting Go is a book I wish could go back and give to each one of those hurting people. It is a book I will give to everyone of them in the future. This book by Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert is essential reading for all those with wayward loved ones and for all of us who are called to walk with them in the pain. -- Dr. Heath Lambert, Executive Director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was written as if we’re about me. I know I’m not alone and neither are you. If you are going through this type of trial in your life this is definitely a wonderful resource for the prodigal-lover like myself. Helps in understanding the wayward soul we are so desperately praying for. Trust in the Lord with all your heart through this season. Knowing he is faithful and true to His Word. Do not let your feelings and circumstances control YOU...lean on the word of God and trust in His promises.
This book was recommended to me by a father with a wayward daughter who said, "I feel like they're telling my story." As a former prodigal son who put his parents through the hell so accurately described here, I only wish they could have had this book to help them in the desperate battle they undertook to rescue me from the life of dissipation I had chosen. I see both myself and them in many places in this excellent account of what it means to struggle with a loved one bent on self-destruction, and l am grateful the Lord gave them the 'tough love' (as it was called then) to let me go to encounter both the consequences and the blessings God had in store for me. As a pastor I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with or assisting anyone dealing with a prodigal, and as one who has himself returned from "living in a far country," I can confirm this book tells it like it is.