Return of the Prodigal, Part One: When You're Waiting at the End of the Long Road Home
It was the Wednesday after Labor Day. I remember it distinctly — a day not unlike so many others before. I was finishing up after a long day at work. It was late. As is my custom, I called my husband as I drove home to let him know I was on my way.
It was already dark. I was trying to concentrate on the road as I waited for him to pick up the phone. He didn’t say hello. He hesitated a moment, then simply stated, “You’ll never guess who’s here.” I knew immediately.
My stepson showed up on our doorstep after three years, three months and two days of being gone. These were not the years many parents spend excitedly watching their child go off to college or overseas with the military. No, these were years spent in agony. The separation had been a separation of choice, a distinct cutting off. Deliberate.
We had grieved for so long. We had picked up the pieces of our lives and had found peace, not the kind of peace that is ignorant of pain, but the kind of peace that has surrendered to the devastating helplessness of grief and has allowed it to wash over us as best it could. Healing.
My heart was quivering. We had prepared for this moment, prayed for this moment. But what now? What will I feel when I see him? What will I say?
They were on the back porch — a symbol of sorts. Not ready to invite him in. Not ready to be vulnerable. Not yet. Not for a long time really, for this wasn’t the first such encounter.
When I saw him, all I can say is that what I felt was pure joy. As we embraced, my heart leapt inside. Nothing else existed in that moment. After 3 years, three months, and two days, my child who was lost had been found, and that was all that mattered.
Wasn’t that how I came to God? Wasn’t He the one who was waiting for me, watching for me in the far-off distance when I wandered home in my ruinous pain?
Before there was a celebration, there was that moment. Before there was a conversation, there was that moment. Before there was an explanation, a repentance, a hope of restoration, there was that moment when I walked right up to Abba in my brokenness and pitiful rebellion, and we embraced. I can only imagine that for Him in that moment with me, all that mattered was that His child who was lost had now been found. I was found — in that moment. I was home.
In each of our lives there comes a time when we have to choose. Do we stay in the muck and mire of our pain? Do we continue on the road that has led us nowhere? Or do we recognize our inner devastation, our need, and make our way home, back to where we are loved and accepted and celebrated?
It is never too late to come home.
We are never too lost to find our way home.
Home is where we will find peace with our Abba. Home is where we build the foundation for the rest of our lives. Home is where our journey begins.
The story for our family has not been finished. In fact, our journey has just begun. Yet for all the other things to come, all of the working-through that lies ahead, I would hate to miss that one moment. That one precious moment!
Tags: home, healing, lost, found, journey