My friend Ruth Graham went straight for the heart when she shared two years ago at Billy Graham’s funeral: “Daddy wasn’t God, but he showed me what God was like.” She went on to tell of when she returned to her parents’ home after disobedience and sin, knowing she had made bad choices and hating to disappoint them… and God.
“We live on the side of a mountain and as I wound myself up the mountain, I rounded the last bend in my father’s driveway and my father was standing there waiting for me,” she said through tears. “As I got out of the car, he wrapped his arms around me and said ‘welcome home.’ There was no shame, there was no blame, there was no condemnation – just unconditional love.”
But in order to receive that amazing grace gift, Ruth had to make the choice to return – making a 180 degree turnaround from where she was to where she wanted to be.
Christina couldn’t wait to leave home and see the world.
Though she had a loving mother, life in her poor Brazilian village provided only a pallet on the floor, a washbasin and a wood-burning stove. Christina dreamed of more. And she expected to find it in the Big City – Rio de Janeiro.
It broke her mother’s heart. Maria knew that her beautiful daughter had no way of making money and would be forced to do whatever was required when pride meets hunger. So she packed a small bag, bought a bus ticket and stopped briefly at the drug store photo booth for lots of small photos of herself.
This desperate mother trudged through the city, stopping in the worst places – bars, nightclubs, seedy hotels – anywhere that prostitutes might frequent. And in every location, she taped on the mirror a small picture of herself with a note on the back. And prayed. Soon out of money and pictures, she took the bus back home to her village.
Weeks later, a disillusioned and broken down Christina descended some stairs in the latest hotel, feeling exhausted and fearful. Living a nightmare instead of a dream. How many times had she wished she could trade any of those countless beds for that safe pallet back home? But she could never go home again. Not now. As she walked to the door her eye caught sight of a picture of her own mother on the lobby mirror.
What in the world?
Written on the back she read, “Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. I love you. Please come home.”
And she did.
Have you wandered far in search of more?
Seeking a path of sensation, significance or security? Only to discover the price was far too dear — you had to forfeit your scruples, your self-esteem, and perhaps even your soul. But now you realize that going it alone is highly overrated. Listening to the world’s views will only confuse and confound.
Is it too late to return to the God who knows you best and loves you most? Absolutely not.
Now is the perfect time to do what the prophet Joel said, “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow; tear your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.” Joel 2. 12-13 CEB
He is waiting to welcome you home. But it does require a choice.
There is ample opportunity to offer up your own tears and sorrow, your broken heart and shattered dreams, your disobedience or shame. God still loves you. He still wants you. And His arms are open to receive, “for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.”
This season of Lent is all about returning.
Returning to God after pushing Him out of most of our life and activities. Returning to values and faith. Returning to complicated relationships and doing whatever it takes to mend them. Returning to the purpose and calling God placed on each of us, but it got worn down by weariness and the world.
We have strayed and turned our attention to other pursuits. We have too often neglected to provide our children and the world an example of Christianity. But today we begin anew.
Today, we return.
under the mercy, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com
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