As many of you know I took the summer “off”. I say that in quotations because I was still working my 9-5 and doing ministry work. My dog and the house didn’t get the memo, so off is a relative term. I was still writing blogs during my vacation, I just wasn’t posting them. What can I say? I did take some time off to get away from home; some personal and some ministry related and although I had a fantastic time, I was yearning for home. During my trip I got to spend great time with awesome friends, make some new ones, learn new things, see new places, but at the end of the day I missed home. As I think about it when we are home we are always looking for a place to go because we are tired of seeing the same things. As soon as we cross the door, something in us realizes that we don’t belong outside of those walls, we always belong home. You know how it is, that cup that you keep rinsing and using because it fits the right amount. You want to experience the curve in that sofa that you have made from sitting in the same corner every day. The joy of embracing your pillow that is used to the unique way that you curve your head at night. Even the dog that you step on when you go to the bathroom in the dark, it’s all a part of you. Ironically one of the central themes at the church conference was “Coming Home”. It was based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son; which is no different than what I’m talking about. How many times do we get annoyed with our church home and leave because someone said or did something we didn’t like? Did you find yourself complaining about the music, the message…Then we left God looking for something better. As you’re sitting away looking back, you know you miss it. You miss that spiritual food that you received. You missed the message of hope inside your spirit. You even miss the sister screaming “hallelujah” right behind you, because you knew you were home. You knew that every time you crossed those lobby doors someone welcomed you with a smile. You knew that being in the presence of God was the best place to be and were you found true happiness. This was the place where you found peace. And by place I don’t mean XYZ particular building. I’m talking about returning to God. I’m talking about that place inside of you that you have abandoned for whatever reason: habits, addictions, relationships, laziness, lack of commitment, unforgiveness, pain. Yes, we call the church the house of God, so once our spirit has come home we need to assemble, to keep supporting each other and grow in our purpose. Pray about it. God has assigned you a particular place of worship. An imperfect place that is perfect for you. This is a place filled with imperfect people, just like you, to be in his perfect presence, receiving his perfect love. How long have you been away from home? C’mon, we’re all waiting for you.
I heard one of the funniest stories the other day speaking to a friend. Her son walked into the living room and announced to his parents that as soon as he graduates High School he will move out of the house so that he can do whatever he wants, without supervision. Why is this so funny? Well, first of all because I think all of us when we were teens thought that we wanted to grow up very fast to get to the point of freedom where we would do as we please. In reality, we are all waiting for that moment. As we grow we discovered that that with freedom came responsibility and that it was easier to respond to our parents than to our new authorities: the government, our bosses, our creditors, our spouses and even our children.
Why it’s so easy to rebel at that age? I think ignorance takes us to think that we know better than our parents what’s best for us and we do that with God every single day. This conversation reminded me of the parable of the prodigal son. He asked for his inheritance while his father was living because he wanted to live his life his way. His father allowed him to and what he found was not freedom but bondage.
In the same way, God as a good father gives us freedom to live our lives, but gives us parameters, boundaries to protect us from getting in trouble. Just like my friend’s son, sometimes we think that we know better than our father, that our preferences and desires are a better follow and that at the end of the day we will be ok. Just like the son, we go outside our boundaries and find ourselves in trouble and we then wish that we could go back home.
The good news is that just like at the end of that story, God is always awaiting for us with open arms. We then discover that freedom is a great thing, but it’s more enjoyable when we live with within the protection of the boundaries set from God to us. Freedom is awesome and well enjoyed when used well.