The youngest of the Robertsons, Jep Robertson, got picked on a lot by his brothers. He says his dad, Phil Robertson, always told him a man has to be able to provide for his family. That doesn’t just mean being able to go the grocery store.
Jep recalls growing up while his dad was still a commercial fisherman and trying to get his duck call business off the ground.
There wasn’t a lot of money. But they ate well, Jep recalls. When you think of it, raising four boys, and feeding them well is quite an accomplishment in itself.
Jep would often go with his mom to the fish market and sell fish for a living. His parents not only fed the boys well but also transient people. They would see them and just ask them if they wanted something to eat.
“My dad just wanted to share Jesus with people. It didn’t matter what color your skin was, how bad your past is–they were just going to help people out.”
They would pick up, feed them, let them stay with the family for a few days and send them off with a little money in their pocket. The remarkable thing about that is that they have very, very little at the time. It didn’t matter.
They would share Jesus with people.
In Jep’s senior year, he met up with some guys that “did things a little different.”
“Maybe I should just experience some of what the world has to offer.” He thought.
That’s when Jep began doing drugs. He started drinking and doing just about everything anyone offered. So much, he can’t remember what he took, and at least one night he couldn’t remember what he did that night.
He hides it all from his parents. He felt lost and empty.
“I knew at that point I was really off the tracks.”
However, he didn’t stop. Nothing could make him stop. Everyday it was the same thing. Looking for drugs and alcohol.
One night while he was in a movie, his big brother Willie, left Jep a note on his truck that read. “We need to talk. I know what you been up to.”
As he pulled into his parent’s house, at eight in the morning, he noticed all his brother’s trucks were there. Jep was curious. He had no idea why they would all be there.
When he entered the house, they were all there Allen, Jason, Willie and their dad Phil. Just sitting on the couch looking at him.
Kay, on the other hand, couldn’t make herself go into the living room.
“Son, are you ready to change?” Jep’s dad asked.
The family had gathered to give their wayward brother and son, an ultimatum. He was given two choices.
1. Join the family in serving God. Which also meant changing his ways.
2. Leave. He would be completely on his own.
“I fell down down on my knees and started crying, and said, ‘What took ‘ya’ll so long?”
That’s when Jep told his dad that he didn’t deserve to come back–he had been horrible. He wanted to confess to his father how bad he had been.
But Phil wouldn’t hear it. He had heard all he needed. It was at that point, his son didn’t need to tell him any more about the life he had led. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that his boy was ready to serve God.
Tears of joy filled that tough old bird’s eyes when he told his son, ”I want you to know that God loves us, and we love ya. But you just can’t live like that.” Jep wanted to come home.
All the brothers were also crying. The relief and joy they must have felt had to be overwhelming. At one point, Jep recalls, they all just got down on their knees, crying and thanking God for getting him out of the mess he was in.
His dad knew that his prodigal son had returned.
Then, Phil did something few could imagine. To help his son leave the life he was living–he made sure his boy was on house arrest.
Three months of not leaving to go anywhere. Oh yeah, there was one more thing. He was to go duck hunting every day. That was something he could do.