When we read about someone who strayed from God in his youth only to return at a later age, it is easy to cast it as a trope in the vein of the Prodigal Son, or speak of someone's "Road to Damascus" conversion. Such simple characterizations can risk missing the richness and nuance of the big picture and God's redemptive work. Andrew Palau's new book The Secret Life of a Fool is one such story—the son of famed evangelist Luis Palau, Andrew grew up wanting nothing to do with God. His road, though, wasn't one of outright rejection but apathy toward faith. Through the story of his youth and eventual journey home, God's work appears in the nooks and crannies, the small moments and the thrust, the secret life and the life together.
You wrote about how your parents "struck a balance between giving you guidelines for life and knowing they couldn't change your heart." What advice would you give to parents, particularly those trying to raise their children with faith, as they seek that balance in their own lives?
My parents showed evidence of confidence in the Lord. I knew that their hearts were broken over my activities. But they kept a nice tension on the rules of the house—knowing they couldn't make me a Christian or feel convicted, they couldn't approach it on spiritual terms. They had to say "Look, here's the law of the land: You can't drive drunk because you're going to kill somebody." And when I did drive drunk, I had my car taken away for many years. Though I was sort of a pitiful sight to them, they were joyful. What really impressed me and made a difference over time was that I didn't steal their joy. They weren't happy all the time, they were unhappy with the things I did, but their joy came from something else. ...1