For once we weren’t in a hurry to get where we were going, and so we patiently waited as gray boxcars chugged by against a gray sky. Rain pelted the windshield while we listened to the radio and chatted, watching for the end of the long line.
Some cars had escaped graffiti. But many were covered with garish swirls and flourishes and primitive spray-paint “art.” I thought it was a shame that the cars had been ruined. Then another car rolled by and my heart caught in my throat. The words “I shud go home” were sprayed in huge letters across the side.
I shud go home.
Of course my first thought was that “shud” was misspelled (hey, I can’t help myself; I’m afflicted with a condition!), but fast on its heels was heartache for the longing soul so far from home.
Home. What was at home? Peace? Security? Warmth? Provision? Love? Acceptance? Time to heal and begin again?
Then of course the parable of the prodigal son leaps to mind. I’ve never understood how that son could demand his inheritance while his father was still alive. I mean, honestly, you might be an heir, but you don’t have an inheritance until someone dies. So, by demanding his inheritance, wasn’t that son telling his father, “You are dead to me”?
How sad is that?
And I wonder, how many times have I taken the gifts and blessings of the Lord, then turned my back, and gone off to live life by my own rules and desires?
So that loving father gave both sons their inheritances. One tucks it away and stays home (still living off his father) … and the other makes a break for freedom. Far from home, he does whatever he feels like … and he has the money to do it! But soon all is gone, because the things he thought would make him happy didn’t last. He finally came to himself and thought, “I should go home … “
And so he did. He found his father waiting for him — and everything he needed was there. At home with his father.
One friend sends me a text saying she believes God has abandoned her. Another vents on Facebook that there’s no point to spending your life working for others, being the better person, turning the other cheek, because you’ll just find that those you gave your all to will be the ones who will never do the same for you. She adds you should never put yourself out on that limb, because when the limb breaks, no one will be there to catch you.
My fingers twitch over the keyboard, my mind scratching for attitude-adjusting — no, heart-revolutionizing – responses. My first thought is to throw Bible verses at them, because I know the power of the Word. It is, after all, Truth. But when folks are in certain frames of mind, they tend to slap away Scripture like a so many bothersome gnats. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah.
All I can think of is Jesus. And home.
They should go home.
If anyone ever felt abandoned, it was Jesus. If anyone ever gave and gave and gave of Himself to others, then found those very same people nowhere around when He needed them, it was Jesus. If there’s anyone who understands us, what we’re feeling in every circumstance … it’s Jesus.
How many times have I left home determined to go my own way? How many times have I disappointed my Father, broken His heart, grieved His Spirit? But every single time — knowing of His love, His compassion, His never-failing mercy, His inexhaustible grace — I knew I could turn around and head for home. And His arms would be open wide.
But I don’t know what to say to texts and Facebook posts. So I rattle off cliché encouragements, paraphrases of Scripture, hoping something nicks.
I should just tell them to go home. The Father is waiting. He has everything we need. And His arms are always open wide. After all, there’s no place like home …