My daughter, Sarah, got home yesterday! A friend flew to Oregon, they packed her car and drove cross country home...to stay! Because of the snow they took the southern route and enjoyed San Francisco, glamping (glamourous camping) in Palm Springs, hiking in Arizona, sleeping in Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta with her best friend and then home! I am thrilled she is back home to stay because 3000 miles was too far.
While I am so happy she is home I am also thankful for her years away. I know it was good for her. As my Dad would say, there were many life lessons learned. I want my girls to be independent and see the world. “It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” I got my love of travel from my mother and she got it from her father. Honey keeps saying, "my daddy would be so proud of Sarah!" And I know my Dad would be so proud of her, proud of her independence and love of travel.
I have thought a lot about our free will - we take all kinds of roads to get where we are going. I got totally off the path for a while. Eventually, we merge back on the right road til we see a detour or a roadblock. Sometimes we have engine trouble or a flat tire - something we cannot help that changes our ETA -- estimated time of arrival. It doesn't matter what time we arrive but that we arrive! I can only imagine how my Heavenly Father felt the day I knelt at the Altar to give my life totally to Him. Luke 15: 18, "I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you." I was 32 and had done a lot of traveling! I believed in Him before that but I did not have a personal relationship with Him until then. I had not made a commitment.
The prodigal son messed up, was ashamed and ran away. He found himself homeless and so hungry he wanted to eat leftover slop for animals. Eventually, knowing he did not deserve to go home, he went, hoping for a tiny bit of mercy. When he got home, his father was gracious and runs to meet him and plans a party for him - to celebrate his return. The brother is annoyed by this, after all, he had been there the whole time so he asks his dad why he is celebrating. He tells him in Luke 15: 11: 32, "But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” This is how Jesus describes our Father's relationship with his children.
The Dad is God and the son is you and I. No matter how bad we mess up or how long it takes us to find our way home - God still celebrates us, the one. Luke 15: 4-6, "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep." No one messes up so badly that God won't welcome them home. I think about how excited I was to see Sarah finally come home. To know she made the journey safe! She followed her dream and when she was ready, she came back. I cannot imagine how God feels when one of His children come home! Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. John 14: 3, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." Now that will be a welcome home!