Going Home
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Probably all of us can remember a time when we were homesick. Can you remember coming home after being away for more than just a weekend? You just can’t get there fast enough, right? I’ve even read that animals can sense when they are going home.

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“Shepherds say that sheep that have spent the summer in the high country and are on their way back to the shepherd’s fold anticipate their homecoming. Even though they have to go through difficult terrain and sudden storms that make them cold and wet, you can sense in the flock an excitement and enthusiasm as they come nearer and nearer to the shepherd’s fold.”1

My first year out of college I got a job teaching at the junior academy in Indianapolis. I packed up all my worldly belongings and moved into an efficiency apartment in a tall apartment building all by myself. It was one of the loneliest years of my life! As the school year came to an end, I realized just how much I did not want to spend another year so far from my family, but I also felt like I was failing at the whole adult, living-on-my own thing. I hated to make the call to my folks to tell them that I wanted to come home. My mom had redone my bedroom so that it actually looked like a guest room and I was messing up all of her careful redecoration, not to mention not letting my parents enjoy the whole empty nest thing. Even so, as soon as I called, my mom was on a plane to Indianapolis to pack me up and move me back home. I still felt kind of guilty though – until about a month or so ago.

My older son moved to Loma Linda about a year and a half ago. Just about four months ago, we redecorated his room into a sewing room – filled his dresser with lengths of fabric, moved in my sewing machine and a table to cut patterns on, moved a couple of the things he’d left behind into the garage. Then he called and said he’d put in his two-week notice and he wanted to move back home.

I flew out to meet him, packed up his car and headed for Texas. I teased him a bit about changing my sewing room plans. My younger son suggested that I lay out a pattern on his bed, asking him not to disturb anything, and sleep on the couch, but I don’t want him to ever think that where my sewing machine sits is more important than he is.

I think sometimes when we think of going to Heaven, we think about how we will feel. But try to imagine for a minute how God will feel. He’s been separated from us since Adam and Eve sinned. We forget that God has been holding our rooms ready in Heaven all this time, just waiting for the moment when He can come to bring us Home.

“The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 AMP

STOP! Go back and re-read that verse – try to let it sink in. Get a mental picture of God … GOD, Himself, rejoicing over you, singing with joy because of you. Can you wrap your mind around that? I’m not sure I can. It’s hard for me to imagine the enormity of God’s love for each of us, no matter what we’ve done.

I have to come back to the story of the Prodigal Son again. Remember the reaction of the father? He didn’t tell the son he could come home, but he’d better straighten up and fly right from now on. He didn’t tell the son he had to go take a bath before any of the neighbors saw him.

“Little did the … thoughtless youth, as he went out from his father’s gate, dream of the ache and longing left in that father’s heart. When he danced and feasted with his wild companions, little did he think of the shadow that had fallen on his home. And now as with weary and painful steps he pursues the homeward way, he knows not that one is watching for his return. But while he is yet ‘a great way off’ the father discerns his form. … He ‘had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck’ in a long, clinging, tender embrace.

“… In his restless youth the prodigal looked upon his father as stern and severe. How different his conception of him now! So those who are deceived by Satan look upon God as hard and exacting. They regard Him as watching to denounce and condemn, as unwilling to receive the sinner so long as there is a legal excuse for not helping him. His law they regard as a restriction upon men’s happiness, a burdensome yoke from which they are glad to escape. But he whose eyes have been opened by the love of Christ will behold God as full of compassion. He does not appear as a tyrannical, relentless being, but as a father longing to embrace his repenting son.

“Do not listen to the enemy’s suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better; until you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until then, you will never come….
“He will bring you into His banqueting house, and His banner over you shall be love. (Song of Solomon 2:4) ‘If thou wilt walk in My ways,’ He declares, ‘I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by’ even among the holy angels that surround His throne. (Zechariah 3:7).

“‘As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.’ Isaiah 62:5. ‘He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing.’ Zephaniah 3:17. And heaven and earth shall unite in the Father’s song of rejoicing: ‘For this My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’”(E.G. White, A Call to Stand Apart, page 13)

Even though it’s hard to comprehend with our sinful, human minds, God is more anxious for us to be with Him than we are! He has been planning our “Welcome Home” celebration and making sure our mansions are just right. He’s ready for us. Are we ready to go home?

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Refrain:
Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.

Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.2

  1. Leith Anderson “Next Life in the House of the Lord,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 157.
  2. Will L. Thompson, Softly and Tenderly, 1880
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Going Home — 23 Comments

  1. [Moderator's note: Please use your full name to identify your message]

    I was moved by the thought of Jesus eagerly waiting for me... Lord I want to be there. Help me to be ready.

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  2. Not often have i read a more emotionally vivid portrayal of God's love. And to think that's what its been like all along since day 1...if only the knowledge of this love had had its deserved foremost throne in my mind and heart through all of life's upheavals....

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  3. I have revelled in this text, Zephaniah 3:17, for quite some time. How many of life's disturbances could be ignored if we were able to comfort ourselves fully by living each moment under God our Protector.

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  4. The apostle John ( 1 John 3:1) tells us to just "behold" the manner of God's love towards us. Words really don't do justice to the scope of His love. We can only behold it. I was rendered speechless recently when I learned how Jesus will wear His humanity for eternity. I previously thought it was a one-time deal for the sake of paying the penalty for our sin. Boy, I was dead wrong. Listen to what E. G. White says in Steps to Christ below:

    " Christ was to identify Himself with the interests and needs of humanity. He who was one with God has linked Himself with the children of men by ties that are never to be broken. Jesus is "not ashamed to call them brethren" (Hebrews 2:11); He is our Sacrifice, our Advocate, our Brother, bearing our human form before the Father's throne, and through eternal ages one with the race He has redeemed--the Son of man.”

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    • Newton,
      How amazing!!!! Jesus is "not ashamed" to let everybody know that He's our brother! When He greets us in Heaven, it will be with human arms wrapped around us. Thank you for giving us that beautiful picture.

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  5. I enjoyed this reading. It appeals to me. God has been waiting to welcome us home for years [ He is Patient], while we who live for 3 scores and 10 complains that he is taking too long to return for us.
    I think reading tell us how much our Great God has to bear for our salvation.
    Praise to his name, for he is long suffering. I thank God that he is God.

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  6. I was comforted as I read this, it brought home to me how wonderful it is to be loved and how sometimes we don't even know it. I now know what to say to my sons who think that I do not support them in the way they are going as it is not God's way. I feel more confident to share with them the fact the it is because of love why I have to let them know how I feel and that they are welcome to return home. I look forward now even more to be in God's kingdom!

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  7. Thank you Lillianne for this touching post and I loved the Scripture you used. As I was reading this, I thought about how sometimes I can be away from my hometown for a year or so and yet whenever I get back home and sit down on my parent's sofa, it feels like I never left! Is that how it will feel when sin has been destroyed and Eden is restored?

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  8. I am always dreaming and wishing for that day to come to be with the Lord soon... Thank you Lord!

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  9. The Bible is clear about this; God desires us to be with Him more than we can understand or have desired to be with Him. But let me suggest that the prodigal was surely given a bath and was grateful for it. Imagine that YOU were him and Father had just fetched for you the "best robe", with shoes and the family ring so you would look your best when everyone else came to celebrate your return from...the pig pen, which you still smelled like. You can't cover the filth with even the best of robes, and the Father understands every need of ours. Yes, a bath is included as we are washed completely from our filth and presented "faultless" before all who come to rejoice in our return. Not one reminder of our past will remain and we will feel perfectly at home in that holy place, looking and smelling clean. No, the bath is not mentioned in the story, but does it need to be? Who wouldn't want one in those circumstances?! (Psalm 51:7, Ezekiel 36:25, Zechariah 3:4)

    Yes, the Father accepts the erring son all filthy, but will not present him before the friends that way.

    Zeph 3:17 and Jude 24 are two witnesses of God's delight in saving sinners and having them home again.

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  10. Home is ever so sweet! In war-torn zones, refugees could be home away for years, but when peace finally returns in their original homes, see the excitement they have! They go home to pick up their broken pieces of life again. Friends, God has already picked up those broken pieces for us. We know our earthly home to be sweet, but God has made us a sweeter home. How we shall rejoice with God when we shall abide with Him in the mansions He long built for us! Thank you Lilliane for those wonderful thoughts about Home!

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  11. Lillian, I appreciate how wonderfully you capture the deep longing of a loving Father, who is pained by our separation, and sincerely yearns for His missing son/daughter to come home. Thank you for your wonderful heart of love that reflects our Savior's.
    Any chance our Father might have guest prepared or turned our room into a work room when we left? (not a criticism, but a thought to explore)

    Question: The son was an entitled lazy bum before he left home; never attempting to learn a skill, but always claiming his allowance, till finally persuasively demanding his inheritance. If he comes back home with the same heart as he left, with no intention to do his part (and reject Robert's bath before new breeches) does he still have his room in the house? Did he really return home? He did. But did he not? Will you remove the sewing machine for his sake (will it remove the Father's grief of separation)?

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    • Excellent questions, Hurford. My guess is that the son doesn't return if his heart isn't changed, but that's just me. Maybe if we return for selfish reasons, it doesn't count?
      Thank you so much for your thoughts and for reading.

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      • I have read that God will appeal to our natural selfishness to reach our hearts with His grace. Actually, how else could He reach most sinners? But God alone reads each heart accurately and our only question on this point should be "am I sincere?" The sincerity of others is not our concern.

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      • I believe the son had changed. He did not want to be counted for a son, but a servant. Now, that is a huge change!

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  12. Is true Jesus will come again and only those who are Holy will see Him. Wow Home Sweet Home.

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  13. I believe it said some where that the son came to Himself and said I have sin; aganst GOD and you.Repented,The Lord new his heart and that what True Love does It restores; all have sin and come short.The key word for me is asking for forgiveness and being accepted back,stink and all.Thats real love.

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  14. We just return. We do not put qualifiers to the return. We just return. We do not try to sort out and assign motive for the return. We just return. God prompts the return, even if we/others think some return for selfish reasons. God will continue with the heart work of convicting and changing the one returning.
    None of us is good enough for the Father's embrace--even those of us who never left. His robe is continuously covering and cleaning all of us up.

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  15. Yes John, this story from Luke 15 is the 3rd of 3 parables about the lost being found. The prodigal son "found himself" lost, which is the work of God in the heart of the sinner. Without God's Spirit speaking to our sinful hearts, we would never realize our need and would remain satisfied to live with pigs and eat their food. By revealing to us a better life, He draws us, even through our naturally selfish desires. After all he had done with his inheritance, it could only have been true repentance that would lead this son home again to the father he had sinned against. We can only truly repent through humility since pride won't allow it, and Satan is the example there.

    The son met his father with confessing and feeling worthy to be only a servant, no longer a son, and not pretending that all was well, as if he had done no wrong, nor with any excuses. His acceptance of his father's embrace revealed humility and contrition of soul. He brought nothing but his confession, driven by his need. This is the lesson Jesus is teaching us and wants us to understand; no matter the magnitude of our sin, God accepts the truly penitent soul.

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