Letting Go

Letting Go:
Rugged Love For Wayward Souls


What do you do when someone you love leaves? And how do you pursue someone who has hurt you, who has sinned against you?  In Letting Go, pastors Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert share stories of pain and stories of hope as they reveal how to care for the prodigal who has strayed.  Whether you are dealing with an unfaithful marriage partner, a rebellious child, or a wayward friend, the counsel they offer will help you to pursue a gospel-rooted approach, grounded in truth and practiced in the midst of Christian community. 

While each situation is unique, most stories deal with common themes of shame, guilt, confusion, uncertainty, and struggle.  You will understand the spiritual dynamics at work in the heart of the prodigal and how you as a family member, spouse, friend, or church leader can best relate to them in love.  You will learn how to practice “redemptive release” through confrontation and discipline as well as how to forgive the person who has hurt you through a process of reconciliation. For those in a time of waiting and wondering if their loved one will ever return home, there is a reminder of the hope of the gospel and the necessity of depending upon the Holy Spirit through prayer.  

A must-have resource for every believer struggling to love the prodigal back home again, it is ideal for parents and siblings, counselors, pastors, and those ministering to hurting families and churches.


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About the Authors

DAVE HARVEY serves as the President of Sojourn Network and as a teaching pastor at Summit Church in Ft. Myers/Naples, Florida. Dave is also the founder of Am I Called.com, a leadership resource site helping pastors, leaders and men who want to plant or pastor churches that last. Dave has 31 years of pastoral experience, with 19 years as a lead pastor. He chairs the board for the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) and has traveled nationally and internationally doing conferences where he teaches Christians, equips pastors and trains church planters.  Dave writes regularly for The Gospel Coalition and For the Church and served as general editor for the ? series.  Dave has a D-Min from Westminster Theological Seminary, is the author of When Sinners Say I Do, Am I Called, Rescuing Ambition, Am I Called? and a recently released book with Zondervan titled, Letting God: Rugged Love For Wayward Souls. Married for 35 years, Dave and Kimm have four kids and two grandkids.





Paul Gilbert is the Lead Pastor of Four Oaks Community Church. Paul received has an MDiv and an MA from Reformed Theological Seminary in Marriage and Family Therapy as well as a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family from Florida State University.  He has studied extensively on the subject of forgiveness and family systems. Paul currently serves on the board of Am I Called Ministries and lives in Tallahassee, FL with his wife, Susan, and their four children.


Praise for Letting Go

As a pastor and counselor I have walked with countless parents, spouses, siblings, and friends agonizing with them over how to love someone who refuses to take help. Letting Go is a book I wish could go back and give to each one of those hurting people. It is a book I will give to every one of them in the future. This book by Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert is essential reading for all those with wayward loved ones and for all of us who are called to walk with them in the pain.
— Dr. Heath Lambert, Executive Director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors; author, A Theology of Biblical Counseling and Finally Free
In their extraordinarily helpful book pastors and counselors Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert offer practical help for parents, spouses and friends who have found themselves in the unenviable position of loving someone who has completely gone off the rails. They will walk with you as you consider your options and help you process your decisions. But most importantly, they will point you to Christ. I’m really thankful for this book…and you will be too.
— Elyse Fitzpatrick, Co-Author of Give them Grace
If you’ve suffered the unreturned love of a prodigal child or spouse, this book is for you. I commend Dave and Paul for writing so insightfully and sympathetically—with biblical conviction—on this complex and controversial topic. Their counsel would be wisely heeded, so that we might learn to love our prodigals in a way that directs them toward the Father’s open arms.
— Collin Hansen, editorial director of The Gospel Coalition and author of Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church
All hell breaking loose at home is not an ‘if’, but a ‘when’. You will be crying out for counsel and comfort and Letting Go is crisis theology at it’s best. Harvey and Gilbert bring clarity to the confusion, Spirit-driven comfort to the chaos, and wisdom for loving your prodigal spouse, sibling, friend or child.
— Daniel Montgomery, Lead Pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY.
Do you know the excruciating pain of loving a prodigal? You are in good company: so does God. Billions of us. It is the story arc of the Bible. How should you love your prodigal? Read this book. Harvey’s and Gilbert’s wise biblical counsel is rich in compassion, sympathy, and perhaps best of all, empathy. They will point you to hope.
— Jon Bloom, Co-founder and Chair of Desiring God; author of Not By Sight and Don't Follow Your Heart
It’s always an honor to be asked to endorse a new book by authors I respect, but this time it’s a privilege. I need “Letting Go”—I need the wisdom, and gospel rhythms, my brothers have poured into all 175 pages of their timely tome. Sometimes loving well involves showing “wayward souls” the door, entrusting them to the God who raises the dead. Dave and Paul, thanks for reminding me that none of us is called to be the 4th member of the Trinity.
— Scotty Smith, Teacher in Residence – West End Community Church – Nashville, TN
When we are faced with letting go of a wayward spouse or child we need the wisest of companions to comfort, guide and even challenge us. Dave and Paul are those companions. They give no trite formulas or one-size-fits-all. Instead, they remind us of God’s intimate familiarity with our troubles and how he says more than we might think. Expect them to lead you into humble confidence and resilient hope.
— Ed Welch Ph.D., Faculty and Counselor, CCEF
This compassionate and wise book gives voice to the disorienting shame, bitterness, weariness, and fear when foraging for love amid the brutal relational conditions of a prodigal world. Like a kind and sturdy friend who’s walked in our shoes, it gives us room to vent, grace to be understood, counsel to get through the next hour, the next day. Most of all, Letting Go recovers us to the healing sanity and unshakeable provision of Jesus. A superb help for our work of pastoral care. A sage companion for our human wrestling with love.
— Zack Eswine, Author of Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those Who Suffer from Depression and Pastor of Riverside Church, Webster Groves, Missouri
This book will help parents, pastors, spouses, and friends to walk patiently and purposefully alongside other weak sinners in need of change and mercy. The fuel for this journey is no other than God’s relentless pursuit and endless patience with all of his prodigal children. The authors faithfully point us to the perfect rugged love and sweet patience of our Savior, Jesus Christ, as the model for all our efforts to forgive as we have been forgiven.
— Barbara Duguid
With biblical wisdom and pastoral gentleness, Dave Harvey and Paul Gilbert have crafted an excellent help for those facing the unique challenge of giving grace to those who spurn it. I am grateful for this important book. Letting Go does wonderful justice to the complexity and the versatility of true Christian love.
— Jared C. Wilson, Director of Content Strategy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of Gospel Wakefulness and Unparalleled