This past weekend I was back in my hometown—passing through picking up my daughter returning from a ministry conference. There’s something nostalgic about being in the place where you were raised. Milestones and memories at every corner.
I decided to stop and make a detour to visit the house I grew up in. The place where my very first memories begin to bud. Long summer days outside jumping on the trampoline, swinging on the swing set, and exploring the empty lot next door. Oh how I miss those simpler days.
As I turned into the neighborhood entrance it was if everything was much smaller than I remembered. Then I turned down the street to the address written in my very first bible. The place that will always seem like home. One house after another, they looked the same but somehow different. Then it hit me. I was in the cul-de-sac and had MISSED our house. I turned around and counted houses… this is it! But it doesn’t look like it.
The lot next door full of gigantic rocks had been cleared, the landscaping was totally different, and they had even made an addition over the garage.
I barely recognized it, but it was there. And it was SO GOOD to be home. I got choked up and thought to myself, this is how we can be with the Lord.
“Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness And relenting of evil.” Joel 2:13
Even though I am His and my home is in heaven, life creeps up and changes us if we let it. The farther we get away from home the more different things can get.
Even though I was saved and baptized as a young girl, I hadn’t truly lived out my faith. There were some questionable high school and college years (I know I’m not alone! Can I get an amen?). Ironically, it all seemed to start when we MOVED from this house into the house my parents still live in today. But it wasn’t the move itself that led me away from the Lord, it was the fact that I wasn’t spending daily intimate time with Him.
“Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” Hosea 14:1
I went from having out of town activities most weekends in high school to moving away to college. And in college, the only time I stepped foot in a church was for my sorority initiation. Enough said.
It wasn’t until I was starting a family of my own that I felt my heart tugging back to the Lord. And it took YEARS to find the place we now call home.
“Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will return to you.” Zechariah 1:3
But sitting in front of my childhood home, I was overcome with gratitude that I have finally returned home. I may be a little different, but I’ve learned from my experience. And I am oh so thankful God was waiting for me to return all along.
“But if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.” Nehemiah 1:9
Have you been away from the Lord? Perhaps even for such a time that you barely recognize yourself anymore? God is beckoning for you to return home. God is gracious, compassionate and understanding. No time gone is too long and no sin is too great that you can’t come home. He is always waiting. Return to Him.
~ Heather Shipley