“So he got up and went to his father” (Luke 15:20 NIV).
I hate being wrong. Don’t you?
I hate having to apologize. Just ask my wife (although I’d prefer you not).
I don’t think it’s just a man thing though. I’ve seen her wiggle a time or two as well. Well, okay, “or two” might be stretching it but, boy, did she wiggle that once.
Somehow my feet move slower while my heart beats faster when I’m returning to someone I’ve offended. No matter how many times I’ve rehearsed my apology (and I do a boatload—think nuclear-carrier sized—of rehearsing), I want to stop just outside of that first knock-knock-knock on the door and practice the I’m-really-sorry speech, oh, about a dozen more times.
Or even better, move out of the country and never have to make that trip at all. Actually did that once.
Moved to Siberia.
Well, National Geographic called it Siberia. The Russians just called it the Far East.
Before the Russia move, I had a little trouble in the church. I got a bit excited about the ONE. I blame Him mostly. He just kept lighting my fire and people came to watch me burn. Enough “weird” people started coming to church that the normals became a little upset.
Next thing I know Siberia—er, the Russian Far East—looked pretty good. Talk about your distant country. The nearest McDonald’s was three hours away.
And you needed a passport to get there because Mickey D’s was in Japan.
Moscow? Eight time zones west of us. But it did have a McDonald’s.
So you see, I know a thing or two about flying off to a distant country.
But coming home can be tougher.
I returned to speak at the church where I’d “offended” a few folks. But let me make this clear. I wronged no one. Oh, I was no angel, but my main offense was being excited about my faith and bringing in people who weren’t “our kind of people.”
Despite knowing that, my heart still climbed into my throat and my mind continued to wander into terrifying territory as I drove into town. I figured nobody would show up to meet the prodigal preacher when he returned.
I prepared for a big disappointment. I practiced my little speech to the pastor who followed me. “That’s alright, Mike. I didn’t expect much of a turnout anyway. I kind of thought the group might be bigger than just you and your wife but I do appreciate ya’ll being here.”
Turns out I wasted a lot of energy worrying about going back. Folks opened their arms wide and welcomed me in. They supported my family and me during our stay there and then contributed to our return to Russia.
They offered me a true homecoming and served as a reminder of the ONE’s love and grace extended to me through His family.
If folks on earth can surprise me with their hospitality and generosity, how much more will the ONE surprise me with His favor?
You’d be surprised at the answer.
And I suppose I would be too.
The good news is, if I turn around and head back to the ONE, I find it possible to go back HOME again.
Next week, let’s take a little deeper look at God’s response to our turnaround.
Questions: Have you had a place you feared returning? Did you go back anyway?