I've started reading the book, "He Loves Me", by Wayne Jacobsen. In chapter 4 he discusses the story of the lost son and the loving father found in Luke 15, one that we've all heard a million times. But he makes an interesting observation that I had never before considered:
"Isn't it amazing how at each point in the story this father acts completely opposite of how we would expect a loving father to act? He never should have given him an early inheritance, especially not to such an irresponsible son. He shouldn't have stood by while his son wasted away. And certainly he shouldn't have welcomed him home so extravagantly without making him pay for his stupidity. His actions make no sense at all, unless he wanted something more for his son than mere responsible behavior."
How many times do we think we are doing the loving thing...yet in reality we are only pushing people farther and farther away? We so badly want to save them from going down a path that we know leads to pain, yet our lectures simply cement their desire to run full speed ahead.
Perhaps the truly loving thing to do is simply to patiently pray and wait for them to return home, and be ready for an all-out celebration when that day comes.