THE PRODIGAL'S GUILT AND SHAME -
"David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting
men, and he said to the Lord, "I have sinned greatly in what I
have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your
servant. I have done a very foolish thing." II Samuel 24:10
Standers have trouble unerstanding what
has happened when a prodigal spouse makes false starts toward coming
home. The absent mate comes home, and then just as quickly leaves
again, often becoming more distant than before. Some standers endure
this cycle more than once before their mate stays home.
Two obstacles to coming home, as prodigals see things. Those
roadblocks are guilt and shame.
In the scripture passage above, David was "conscience-stricken" over
his sin. "Bathsheba," you are thinking, "David should feel guilty!"
Not exactly, because David's adultery with Bathsheba, and
subsequently having her husband placed in battle so as to be killed,
happened years after the above incident. David was a very old man,
and nearing the end of his life. What had caused David to feel so
guilty that the Bible tells us he was sleepless? He had counted his
"Playing with the numbers was a sin?" Yes, and it still is today.
(That's a verse that some religious leaders need to read, but that's
another topic entirely.) I pray that today you can see David, a lad
who slew Goliath and was later chosen by God to be the leader of his
people. He committed adultery, caused a murder, and much more.
David came back to God in repentance. Now near the end of his life,
David is crying our to God, simply because he had played with the
Even though your prodigal spouse has never killed a giant, nor led a
nation, the one you love may be at the Bathsheba stage of a David
lifestyle today. Their sin is very open, and they seem to have no
shame. I pray that by helping you to see where your
prodigal really is right now, that you can continue to stand and
pray for their repentance, regardless of the timetable. Remember,
God is always right on time.
Can you envision your returned prodigal, late in life, so sensitive
to the things of God that they toss and turn at night over what some
people would pass off as a "white lie?" Please allow me to explain.
Let's compare where your spouse is right now to the pendulum on an
old grandfather clock. The farther the pendelum is pulled to one
side, the farther to the other side it will go, but only when
released. Your assignment is to pray for the release of your mate
from the clutches of sin.
Restoration is a process that starts with coming home. That is the
beginning, and not the end. Yes, there are ups and downs as the
prodigal grieves the absence of the other person, and as you re-
adjust to each other as husband and wife. There may be child issues,
financial concerns, and a hundred other things that always result in
a trip to the pig pens of life. Above all else, know that the Enemy
will use every opportunity in attempts to destroy a restoring
Talking with other men and women who
are years into restored marriages, the concensus seems to be "I'll
never go there again." Could that be where David found himself in
this passage? He recalls the trouble that earlier sin had caused
him, and it frightens him.
Are you prepared to deal with your prodigal's guilt and shame when
they come home? If not, you are not ready for restoration. When
your prodigal utters, "I feel so ashamed," are you going to reply,
"You should," or are you prepared to offer the comfort in Jesus they
will be needing?
Guilt and shame are powerful tools of Satan. They attempt to
convince us prodigals that the journey home is impossible. No one
can walk out of a family, regardless of the circumstances, and not
feel guilty. Prodigals may have their shame masked for a season,
but there will be a day in the restoration process when they must come
face to face with what we have done.
We need to look at the shame of the stander as well. There is one
phrase I pray that you never, never utter. Do not end a sentence
with "..after what you've put this family through," or any words
even remotely close to that thought. If you are still harboring
shame over what your mate has done, you are not ready for
restoration. Release any shame to the Lord today.
Your prodigal may be viewing their guilt and shame as two huge walls
blocking them from your home. I pray that you will be
able to demolish those walls and pave the pathway home with your
prayers. We want your prodigal to become like a David, so sensitive
to you, and to God, that nothing damaging will be allowed into
those two relationships.
Is that even possible? Not only is it possible, it is also
probable. Today you may be facing what seems like huge obstacles.
Your spouse and the other person might be co-workers. There may be
ongoing contact between them. Nothng good will ever be accomplished
by your spying, but all things are possible through your praying.
If you continue to stand strong, even after the prodigal returns,
and take your counsel from God, not from people, there will come a
day when your spouse realizes their full love, devotion, and
attention, belong at home, to be shared with a spouse and with God,
not shared between a spouse and a counterfeit.
It is possible to get over that other person. The key is having
absolutely no contact with the other person, for any reason, for six
months. During that time, God will help you deal
with the guilt and shame. The affection you feel now will diminish
with time. On the other hand, each contact is like tossing gasoline
into a fire. It is worth the pain to have your spouse and family
"You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you. May
those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the
Lord Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because
of me, O God of Israel." Psalm 69:5-6