Sometimes I wish I could go back to my childhood. Life was much simpler back then. My mom didn’t work outside of the home. My dad worked for himself out of our garage and we kids did not go to school. There were no schedules, no bedtimes, no rising times and not a lot to do unless one of my parents suddenly wanted the house straightened up. Most days we watched reruns on TV, made as many pancakes as we could eat and played with the dog until my mom got up in time to watch the Price is Right.
I miss my mom’s cooking. She is a wonderful cook–even my non-vegetarian friends loved her cooking. Whenever I helped with the cooking I could count on her listening ear, so fixing a meal was more than food to me. My dad was a baker of waffles, pancakes, muffins and all things pastry-like. I liked to get up early on Sunday morning to read the paper with him while he made breakfast for us, but it isn’t the food I miss so much as the conversations. In our isolated and enmeshed world we had very little contact with other people. Our main social outlet was church attendance, yet even that was sporadic. The only constants of my growing up years were the five members of my immediate family and the food and conversations we had.
I left home four months before I turned twenty. We had moved over forty times. I had no physical house to visit, no hometown to claim, no graduating class to be a part of and scattered church families across several states that barely knew me. Home to me had been wherever my family shared a meal. I spent years trying to recreate home by trying to gather my family members together for birthday and holiday celebrations, but it was no use. Our family was like one of those instant blow-up rafts that once taken out of the box, is impossible to put back together. I guess that’s what they mean when they say life is never static. Circumstances and people change, altering the old relationships and bringing new lives into the mix. Even if I could return to a physical homestead–one look over the picket fence would reveal that every one of us has been altered by our life circumstances whether we wanted to change or not.
The theme of not being able to go home is common throughout the Bible. Adam and Eve were the first to discover that sin causes intrinsic results. They probably went back to the garden gate a few times only to discover that they weren’t dreaming–they could no longer go home. Abraham left the land of his fathers who worshiped other gods and became a wanderer. Jacob betrayed his father and brother then ran away from home never seeing his mother alive again. Joseph as a victim of jealous brothers must have mourned the fact that he could not return home. Moses lost his temper and his confidence and hid out in the wilderness for forty years and even at God’s calling, he didn’t want to go back to Egypt. Sin, whether it’s the sins of our fathers, the sins of our siblings, or the sins that we have committed ourselves always causes separation in this life. Sin separates us from each other and God making it impossible to go home.
Jesus told a story that was common in his day, but he added a twist. It was about a guy who messed up so much that he felt he could never return home as a son. Like Adam, Jacob and Moses, he felt hopeless. Finally in an act of desperation and humility, he decided to return to his father. This is where Jesus brought a message directly from the heart of God that changes everything. Jesus described how the Father is waiting and watching down that road, longing for His child to return to Him.
No longer is the gate to Eden barred forever. No longer do Jacob and Moses have to pay for their mistakes. No longer does Joseph have to suffer for the sins of his siblings. The Father, according to Jesus, doesn’t care what any of us have done. He doesn’t care if we have betrayed, or been betrayed. When God sees us coming down that road, He rushes out to give us a big ol’ bear hug. He calls for the best food and restores us to His own good name.
So he got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him;
he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
- Luke 15:20
What do you miss the most about your childhood home?