Have you ever been homesick? It’s a terrible feeling, isn’t it? Do you remember the first time you spent a night away from home on your own? The first few weeks of college were really hard for me. I know I must have called home so many times, just to hear the voices of my family.

Image © Lars Justinen from

That’s what homesickness really is, right? We don’t usually miss the actual building or even the place so much as we miss the people whom we love and whose presence helps us feel safe and loved. With the electronics we have today, homesickness is more easily treated than it was a few years ago. Can you imagine leaving your family when your only contact might be a letter that might take months to get to you?

Growing up I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books about growing up in frontier America. It all sounded so exciting – traveling in a covered wagon, building your house out of whatever was available, contending with wild animals, weather and insects… But thinking about it now, I really can’t imagine how difficult it must have been leaving everything and everyone you had ever known and loved and going someplace about which you knew absolutely nothing, knowing that you would almost certainly never see the people you had left behind ever again. I don’t believe I could have done it.

For some people it’s easier though. I don’t believe my older son has ever been homesick! He just has this adventurous streak that helps him enjoy discovering new places and people more than he misses the folks at home – no offense to the people at home, he is just having a great time where ever he is.

For other folks, I’m thinking of the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable, the urge to leave home is overpowering. I guess instead of being homesick, they’re sick of home. The man/boy in the story couldn’t stand to be home another minute, could he. He couldn’t get away fast enough.

“Then He said: ‘A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.” So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country …’” Luke 15:12-13

Have you ever tried to figure out just what was so awful at home that he felt the need to leave the way he did? It seems like he just felt like living at home was just too boring and restrictive. The next part of verse 13 says that he “wasted his possessions with prodigal living.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe I ever looked up the word “prodigal.” I think I just always assumed that it meant someone who left home and then came back. Not so!

“prod·i·gal adjective \ˈprä-di-gəl\
1: characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure : lavish <a prodigal feast> <prodigal outlays for her clothes>
2: recklessly spendthrift <the prodigal prince>
3: yielding abundantly : luxuriant —often used with of <nature has been so prodigal of her bounty — H. T. Buckle>”1

So, did you know that’s what prodigal meant? Come on, be honest.

Anyway, based on that definition, I’m pretty sure he didn’t feel homesick … at first. He was too busy “sowing his wild oats.” Once all the money was gone, though, things started to get real! “But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.” Luke 15:14

How long do you think that took – “to be in want?” How long do you think he spent crashing on each friend’s sofa until they’d all had enough of him? How long do you think he kept telling himself that all this was just a minor setback and he’d be back on his own soon? How long do you think he looked for a job before he finally settled for working on the pig farm? How long do you think it was before he allowed himself to think that he might have made a mistake in leaving home?

This is how Mrs. White describes the story.

“This younger son had become weary of the restraint of his father’s house.
“Having obtained his patrimony, he goes into ‘a far country,’ away from his father’s home. With money in plenty, and liberty to do as he likes, he flatters himself that the desire of his heart is reached. There is no one to say, Do not do this, for it will be an injury to yourself; or, Do this, because it is right. Evil companions help him to plunge ever deeper into sin, and he wastes his ‘substance with riotous living.’…
“The precious years of life, the strength of intellect, the bright visions of youth, the spiritual aspirations—all are consumed in the fires of lust.
“… The youth who has boasted of his liberty, now finds himself a slave. He is in the worst of bondage—‘holden with the cords of his sins.’ (Proverbs 5:22.) The glitter and tinsel that enticed him have disappeared, and he feels the burden of his chain. Sitting upon the ground in that desolate and famine-stricken land, with no companions but the swine, he is fain to fill himself with the husks on which the beasts are fed.” (E.G. White, A Call to Stand Apart, p.12)

That’s homesick! Maybe part of homesickness is feeling like we can’t go home for one reason or another. When I went to college, I didn’t have a car to go home whenever I wanted. The prodigal son knew he could get home…he just was pretty sure he wouldn’t be welcome there. He didn’t know, then, that his father had been watching the road every day for him. In a way, his father was homesick for him.

Do you realize that no matter how far we’ve wandered from our Heavenly Father or how we’ve wasted our lives in “prodigal living,” the way back to Him is just one step.

“Out in the wilderness wild and drear,
Sadly I’ve wandered for many a year,
Driven by hunger and filled with fear,
I will arise and go;
Backward with sorrow my steps to trace,
Seeking my heavenly Father’s face,
Willing to take but a servant’s place,
I will arise and go.
“Why should I perish in dark despair,
Here where there’s no one to help or care,
When there is shelter and food to spare?
I will arise and go;
“Deeply repenting the wrong I’ve done,
Worthy no more to be called a son,
Hoping my Father His child may own,
I will arise and go.
“Sweet are the memories that come to me,
Faces of loved ones again I see,
Visions of home where I used to be,
I will arise and go;
“Others have gone who had wandered, too,
They were forgiven, were clothed anew,
Why should I linger with home in view?
I will arise and go.
“O that I never had gone astray!
Life was all radiant with hope one day,
Now all its treasures I’ve thrown away,
Yet I’ll arise and go;
“Something is saying, “God loves you still,
Tho’ you have treated His love so ill,”
I must not wait, for the night grows chill,
I will arise and go.
“Back to my Father and home,
Back to my Father and home,
I will arise and go
Back to my Father and home.”2

  1. Prodigal. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2013, from
  2. T.O. Chisolm & George C. Stebbins, The Prodigal Son, Tabernacle Publishing Co., 1914


Homesick — 7 Comments

  1. I am spending my first Sabbath away from my family at university and I am feeling homesick. This was very appropriate and warming to my heart, to read. Thank you and Happy Sabbath.

    • Savannah I am praying for God to be with you this weekend and comfort you. This is an exciting time in your life. You may feel alone, but as you enter college you will now be making friends that will be your friends for the rest of your life! I pray this weekend you will meet some people who will be your best friends for the rest of your life!

    • Happy Sabbath, Savannah!! Away from home and at school is a big change, isn't it? Thanks for joining us here. I'm praying for you as you start your new life and make new friends. I'm sure you will be busy where you are now, but always know you are welcome here!!

  2. Thank you for this great piece Lillianne. Maybe one reason the prodigal son did not think he would be welcomed back home is because He thought his father was like Him. He thought since I rejected my father my father will reject me. Thankfully we have a Father whose ways are so much higher than our ways, and His thoughts of mercy are so much greater than our thoughts of "I'm going to treat you the way you treated me."

  3. Lillian, homesickness is something most of us can relate to well! Thank you for taking time to write this and make the story of the prodigal a little more real. I love the thought that God is never further than one step away from us no matter how far we have gone or how many times we have failed Him!! So wonderful to know He is Love, and that love is for each of us!

  4. Hi Lopez,
    I don't want to lie because this article has impressed me a great deal. Though I had read white's writing long before, thanks for reminding me.
    I have a totally different feet from that of the prodigal son.
    I at first felt longing for my family but that didnt last since I found a new family~sda adventists.
    I've since then wanted to be with them in the family but I am waiting for GOD to convict them of their faith.

  5. Hi Lillian love the article,I think about Abram and Jacob leaving Home. But unless you leave home you won't begin to understand how good God is to let you come back.When you've spent all your money ,you will loose all of your so call friends.But good is good, there is A friend that is closer than a brother. Don't forget the brother, But the Lord Love both of them.He said in His word return unto me and I will return unto you. Who wouldn't Love a God like that. Thank you JESUS.


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