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Trusting God's Plan for Prodigal Son

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“When Gunnar was born, we were so thankful for him. We lost a child stillborn about two and a half years before he came along, so he was a beautiful gift to the family and a complete joy. And in church, he would actually lead worship. He was really...just the best child you could ever ask for,” says Charlotte Mays. Along with her husband, Steve, they committed to Godly parenting of their son Gunnar. During his teens, they noticed a change.

Charlotte continues, “He was starting to pull away from us. His attitude was changing. He really wasn't wanting to go to church.”

Steve also recalls, “First of all, I thought, you know, just a teenage thing, you know. But then it turned into more.”

“I remember growing up in church," says Gunnar. “I mean, growing up at an early age and just being surrounded by love. I loved going to Wednesday Night Youth Group. I started going to our local creek. It was called Turkey Creek in our hometown. And met up with a lot of other teenagers there and made some new friends. They really opened up a lot of doors to me, to drugs, and alcohol, sexual relations.”

“He was just becoming different and distant,” says Charlotte. Steve comments, “It wasn't Gunnar anymore. I didn't know who he was.”

“I started smoking weed," says Gunnar. “That was the first time I started smoking weed. Remember, I was 15, the first time I ever did. I enjoyed sneaking out and going to parties.”

“We knew that, you know, this was not, you know, going well. And we couldn't seem to bring him back,” says Charlotte. “It was very gut-wrenching as a mother to watch him because I loved him. And I was so, you know, he was my baby. He was the baby of the family.”

The Mays sought help for Gunnar through prayer, counselors, and pastors. Nothing seemed to help.

“In the very beginning of the journey, when we saw things were getting worse and not better, the Lord spoke to me and said, 'Live in the victory. Don't wait until you have the victory to rejoice, but rejoice now, knowing the victory is yours.' There would be times when I'd just say, 'Lord, I trust you,'” says Charlotte.

Steve recalls, “Charlotte come to me and said the Lord had told her that Gunnar was going to go to jail and that we were to leave him in jail. And I guess my first thought was, 'How long?'"

“I was introduced to another drug that was called, 'Spice.' It was a synthetic marijuana. It really pulled me out of my mind," says Gunnar. “It really made me, put me under some sort of spell or something just that made me not myself at all. And I didn't have any money and I didn't have a job. So, the only thing I could do was to steal.”

At age 18, Gunnar was arrested for stealing pocket change out of cars. He was held with a signature bond.

“He called me from jail and he said, 'Mom, I'm in jail and I need you to come and get me out. It's just a signature bond,'" says Charlotte.

“I was scared. I didn't want to be there. And I called mom and dad and let them know,” says Gunnar. Charlotte continues, “And I told him, I said, 'Son, don't you remember, I told you that God said you were going to go to jail and we couldn't get you out until He told us we could?'"

“I remember being extremely mad," says Gunnar. “I remember being like I was cussing them out, talking to them like I've never talked to them before.”

“I had to really hold back my emotions and stay steadfast in what God told us to do,” says Charlotte.

“I knew what type of people that were in there with him and what he was having to go through, the anxiety he was feeling. And I felt it all myself,” says Steve.

“When we went to see him the first time, he's madder than a hornet,” says Charlotte. So I thought, 'Well, Lord, You're not ready yet. He's not ready.'"

“I tried to manipulate them by saying, "I'm in this place. It's scary. I don't want to be here. This is jail. This is jail. You guys can't just leave me in here,” says Gunnar.

“I leaned into the Lord with all my heart,” says Charlotte. “And I did not give up on Him, not once throughout the journey. I kept my focus on Him. And on my darkest days, I would just spend time before the Lord in prayer and I would just constantly say, 'I trust you, Lord.'"

Steve and Charlotte continued praying for Gunnar, and after leaving him in jail for three weeks God answered. Charlotte states, “I could see a change in him, and we asked him what happened, and he said, 'well I prayed.'"

“You could see a countenance on his face. He was different. You could see it. You could hear it in his voice. And it was refreshing,” says Steve.

“I believe in week three and week four in jail, I was really starting to sober up. I started remembering who I was and the things that I believed,” says Gunnar. “And I remembered how good my life is outside of drugs and alcohol and how thankful I was to have the parents that I have and to know the things that I know. And the truth was that I did know the Lord. I did know His goodness. I did know His grace. I just had lost sight of it at that time.”

After thirty six days in jail, Gunnar was released to attend a Christian rehab center. Today, he serves in multiple ministries at his church and is grateful for his parents' obedience to God.

“I'm so thankful for them leaving me in jail. I'm so thankful they had to exercise faithfulness and self-control. I know that my parents would give God all the glory just as I would,” says Gunnar.

Steve smiles and says, “It's such a wonderful thing to have my son back. You know, God has restored him.”

“It's really refined me in my spiritual walk in so many ways. And I've been able to use it to bring glory to Him,” says Charlotte. “And that's been precious to help other parents with prodigals to know that there is hope. But you've got a part to play. You've got a part to play in the battle. And so you do your part. God will be sure to do His.”

Charlotte's ministry, Jesus Sent Me Ministries, can be visited by clicking this link:

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About The Author

Karl Sutton

Karl Sutton has worked in Christian media since 2009. He has filmed and edited over 200 TV episodes and three documentaries which have won numerous film festivals and Telly awards. He joined CBN in 2019 and resides outside Nashville with his wife and four kids. He loves cycling, playing music, and serving others.