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So, just in case, this is my one chance to cross paths with you, I want you to know:
You can go home.
Your story matters.
You can go home to God, the Father.
Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call on Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for He will freely pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7 niv
My thoughts first turn to the story of the prodigal son. The younger of two sons, he decided he wanted to strike out on his own, perhaps try life ‘his way’ for a while. Maybe he thought he knew more than his father. Or perhaps he was just tired of the boring old rules. Then again, maybe the young son was woven together with the thread of an adventurous untamed spirit. For whatever the reason or the cause he asked his father for his share of the inheritance and struck out on his pioneer journey rather well to do for a young buck, I suppose.
God knows. And He let Him go His own way.
We know the son’s way did not turn out to be the best way. All had been lost – squandered really – on wild living. What was he thinking? Or was he thinking at all? Perhaps he was simply living moment to moment as we tend to do when we are young and unafraid. Did he get trapped somewhere along the way in the lies of the world, his own self-destructive thinking and the jeers and taunts of the enemy of his soul?
God knows. And He watched all along waiting for Him to come back.
He did go home, didn’t he? And isn’t that about the most fantastic and beautiful point of this story? The younger son coming to his senses in the pig pen of despair actually thought it was a good idea to go home! What did this prodigal know to be true, which would make it at all reasonable to think he should turn back before final destruction became his story?
- He wanted to live.
- Home was good and secure.
- He deserved consequences.
- He wanted to receive discipline.
- His father loved him.
- His father was merciful.
- It would be better to live at home as a servant than to perish in a far-off land.
He wasn’t simply correct about what he thought to be true, but the Father’s love and mercy were exceedingly abundantly beyond the son’s expectations. There was a genuine repentance offered, forgiveness extended and celebration erupted upon the son’s return home.
For a long time that parable seemed to be just a story. It was such for me until I needed it to be real and true. I hope I never forget the time a counselor asked my husband and I if we could actually let a son go and not try to rescue him in the middle. Could we simply wait and pray for him to finally come home? Did we trust God that much? I can testify God’s Word is true and dependable.
You can go home to God.
And even as my heart smiles at the remembrance of this beautiful Jesus parable, my mind wanders to another scenario. A woman, who had left her homeland as the wife of a man and mother of two sons. Her name was Naomi.
She hadn’t squandered an inheritance in riotous living. At least there’s no indication she was wrong to follow her husband away from Judah and into the pagan land of Moab. Her husband had taken his family out of the famine in Judah seeking to provide a better life, at least this is what it seems to me. Their actions are not for me to judge for had I been in Naomi’s shoes I most likely would have been the one asking to leave for greener grass.
God knows. And He allowed His children to go anyway.
But when we open the book of Ruth, we quickly learn that Naomi was left with two foreign daughters-in-law only. Rather than the pleasant name of Naomi, she adopted the bitter name of Mara because of the devastation to her family. I wonder if she felt judged. Did Naomi assume she was receiving the punishment from God of her family’s choice to flee God’s people and homeland?
God knows. And He provided ahead of His daughter’s return home.
So, when Naomi heard the good news of God’s restored blessing on her homeland of Judah, she packed her bags, grabbed her daughters hands and headed down the road for home. What did Naomi believe to be true, which would cause her to turn back at the end of such loss?
- The Lord God Almighty was good.
- Home was safe.
- Her people would receive her back as a widow.
- God’s law would make provision for her as a barren widow.
- It was better to go to God empty-handed and bitter than to let shame keep her in a far-off land.
I recognize at least a bit of my own spiritual journey in this story of Naomi. Not that I’ve physically walked in Naomi’s shoes. However, in a spiritual sense, I might be able to relate to Naomi’s journey back home to her God and the people of her God. I certainly know the sickening anguish of recognizing my inability to save myself or my family from a famine season.
There’s a very real truth to Naomi’s story. She and I both learned we must acknowledge the goodness of God and turn back to Him, both physically and spiritually. A faith relationship, which will endure trials, requires full surrender to His sovereign place as Provider and Defender. God is truly our only Security. He is our King and He is worthy of our obedience and praise!
You can go home to God.
Finally, my thoughts turn to Peter, Jesus’ disciple. Peter was the one Jesus called The Rock, which meant Jesus saw the true identity for which God created Peter. Jesus saw Peter’s potential and God’s purpose for Peter’s life.
When I think of Peter, I think of a roller coaster. He was up at the pinnacle one moment and swerving down into a spiral the next. And yet, Peter was full of adventure and ready to throw caution to the wind for the sake of following Jesus. After all, Peter was the one who stepped out of the boat to meet Jesus on top of the waves. He was the one who rightly answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)
Jesus knew. And He encouraged Peter to be bold.
However, it was Peter’s zealous devotion and hot-tempered responses which tripped him up time and time again. When I think of Peter as a follower of Jesus, I truly believe his heart was in the right place. I believe he was fiercely loyal to Jesus. And I think he just couldn’t fathom God’s outlandish plan to allow His own Son to be crucified, to die and to be buried in a tomb.
Jesus knew. And He corrected Peter out of love.
Out of Peter’s lion-hearted love and devotion he swore to Jesus in front of all their friends he would never rebel, deny or turn against Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Peter had no doubt of his absolute allegiance to Jesus.
Jesus knew. And He let Peter fulfill prophetic words of denial.
So, when Peter was at his absolute lowest point feeling like a total failure, who was it called him home? Who had already set up camp on the beach and had a charcoal fire burning? And who called out from the shore with a fishing tip?
It was Jesus resurrected who sought out his friends and Peter, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” As soon as John announced, “It is the Lord!”, Peter got dressed, jumped into the water and swam to the shore. What did Peter know about Jesus, which would cause him to throw himself in the water the way he did? What did Peter believe to be true and anxiously desire to go immediately to Jesus?
- Jesus was good.
- Peter was deserving of consequences.
- Peter could trust Jesus’ correction.
- Jesus was forgiving.
- Jesus was Who He said He was all along.
- Peter could trust Jesus more than he could trust himself.
Even though I imagine Peter once again acted impulsively by dressing and then swimming to Jesus on the shore, I also believe his response illustrated Peter’s sincere love for Jesus. I believe Peter’s desire for another chance with Jesus was only exceeded by Jesus’ desire to restore Peter to his true God-given identity as The Rock.
And so maybe you’ve heard (or maybe not) Jesus met Peter face to face with a re-enactment of Peter’s greatest failure. Except that with Jesus present in Peter’s most painful memory, Peter was able to state victoriously his full allegiance, love and devotion to Jesus, his Friend and his Savior. It was Jesus’ idea to restore Peter. Jesus set up the scenario. Jesus entered into the place of Peter’s greatest shame and failure. Jesus walked Peter through to the full defeat over his shame and set Peter free to fully serve the One to whom he pledged all his loyalty and devotion.
You can go home to God.
He sees you.
He knows you.
He’s waiting to restore you.
What are you waiting for?
Please, don’t take my word for it. Read what God has to say about going home and His response to your ponderings about returning home to Him.
Ruth 1-4 (it’s a short book)
- What other scripture passages give you comfort regarding your relationship with God?
- Will you ask Him to accept you back home? Can you believe He’s standing at the door with the light on waiting to wrap you in love?
- And if it’s someone else you love who is far from the Father, will you pray with me for this very much loved prodigal to turn toward home?
- Which scripture passage do you pray or will you choose to pray on behalf of this dearly loved one?
Eyes on Jesus… you’re shining!