As parents, we often have an idea of the path we would like our children’s lives to take.  Kevin and Jeanie Thomas were on the verge of the empty nest. Their youngest daughter, Genevieve, had graduated from high school.  They had done their best to lead their kids to the Lord, so they were shocked when she announced she was leaving home and leaving her faith. She had decided she was an atheist, and she was moving cross-country to be with a boyfriend she had met online. Kevin and Jeanie were stunned.  They had not seen this coming.

Before they knew it, Genevieve was gone and they were stuck trying to figure out how to live out their faith in relationship with a child who rejects it. Their pastor provided counsel that they embraced.  He said their daughter didn’t need them to argue about what they believed. She had grown up in their home and she knew what they believed. But what she might come to doubt, was whether or not they loved her. So their pastor counseled them to do everything they could to show their daughter their unconditional love. They took that advice to heart, and over the ensuing months did what they could to demonstrate their love long distance.

When Kevin had a heart attack, Genevieve asked if she could come home to see him. It would be the first time they had seen her since she had left.  After a short visit, Jeanie was hugging her daughter goodbye. She didn’t realize how long and how hard she was squeezing. Genevieve said, “Good grief mom, it’s not like you’ll never have a chance to hug me again.  It’s not like this is the last time you’ll ever see me again.”

They had no idea that the next time they would see her, it would be in a hospital and Genevieve would be fighting for her life. The faith that had sustained Kevin and Jeanie as Genevieve rejected their faith, was now the rock they relied on as they walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Hear Jeanie Thomas’ story in chapter 37 of Epic.

Loving a prodigal - Jeanie Thomas