Steve’s Devotional – Going Home
MAY 15, 2014
Have you ever noticed how annoying interruptions in a busy schedule are often divine appointments? That happens to me a lot, but I hardly ever remember that when I’m interrupted. Let me tell you what happened a while back.
I got a call from a young man who insisted that he talk to me. I was up to my ears in work. I had just returned from a week out of town, and I was preparing material for an upcoming speaking engagement. I had spent the day before teaching (hours of lectures) at the seminary. I had a pile of letters to answer, and I had to compose an update letter for Key Life. And…well, I just felt somebody else could deal with this man’s problem. To be honest with you, I was also quite irritated that I was being asked to drop everything I was doing to deal with something I felt could be handled by other staff members.
But God, with his strange sense of humor, arranged it so no one else was around to handle the call. I was sitting at the desk where the “buck stopped,” so I reached for the phone thinking, “Lord, I could do your work better if it weren’t for all these people.” Just before I started speaking to the young man, I thought I heard God say, “Child, these people are your work.”
As I soon discovered, this young man was in Florida for the day. Before he went back to California (his home), he wanted to talk to me about the emptiness he felt only six months after becoming a Christian. I listened as he told me his story.
“When I first became a Christian, all I could think about was how wonderful it was that Jesus loved me. I told others about it; I prayed a whole lot; I was happy being with my new family. And then something happened. I didn’t feel his presence anymore. Then I started doing some of the things I did before I became a Christian. I started thinking that if I really knew Christ, I wouldn’t have the kind of thoughts I have and I wouldn’t do the things I do.”
He then told me what he had felt and known the moment he received Christ. He told me about the terrible conviction of sin and the tremendous relief when he discovered the grace of God through the sacrifice of Christ.
“But,” he said, “that was then and this is now. I’m not sure about anything now. I am plagued with doubts and I am so afraid. There is this emptiness and loneliness that I feel almost all the time.”
Then he asked the question he had called to ask: “Steve, do you think I’m really a Christian? Do you think I’m not saved? And if I’m not, what can I do to be saved?”
I told him about the devil and how Jesus called Satan “the accuser.” I told him that all the condemnation he was receiving didn’t come from God. I told him about the assurance of salvation and how one obtained it. I told him that the very fact he was talking to me showed to whom he really belonged. If he did not belong to Christ, I told him, he certainly would not have called me. He simply would have walked away from God’s people in silence. I told him that if he wasn’t a Christian, God had lied to him, and if God had lied, we had a bigger problem than whether or not he was saved.
And then I thought (I suspect it was from the Father) about the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). I related the story to the young man. I reminded him that the son who was living with the pigs was no less the son of his father while with the pigs than when he was home with the father. He had just run away from home. That was all.
Then I said to the young man: “You are going back home to California this afternoon and that is an important home. But there is another home Jesus was talking about in the parable. It is the home we find when we go to our heavenly Father. Go home to California this afternoon; but go back to your other home, the one where the Father always waits.”
I reminded him that home was where the love was. I told him that it wasn’t important that he be perfect, only home.
He was helped, I think. He was laughing before he hung up the phone, and it was the laughter of the redeemed. I was glad I could help; but, after all, I had a lot of work to do and was relieved to be able to get back to it.
That was when the Lord spoke again: “That call was for you, you know.”
“What do you mean, it was for me?” I replied. “I helped one of your children who was in trouble and needed a brother.”
“You’re one of my children too.”
“I already knew that. I don’t need assurance of salvation.”
“I know you don’t. But you do need to go home sometimes too because that is where the love is. That is where I am.”
Then I remembered my quick prayers, my heavy schedule, and the “important ministry” in which I’m involved. I hadn’t stopped long enough to sense that I was lonely, just like the young man to whom I had spoken. In the stillness, I realized that I felt empty too.
You can cover that for a while if you are busy enough. You can pretend that you aren’t lonely if you are with enough people enough of the time. You can hide the emptiness that can be healed only with the Father’s love at home if you keep saying spiritual things and talking God talk.
I felt guilty when I thought about the waiting Father at home. The guilt didn’t come from my sin (though, God knows, there is plenty of that) but from the fact that I had not gone to him. I had been too busy to go home where the love was.
And so, the rest of the morning and a considerable part of the afternoon, I repented. I, as the son in the parable, “came to myself” and remembered my home and my Father.
I was kind of worried when I thought about him and home. Would my Father be angry? Would he reject me? Would he cast me out? That is, of course, what I deserve. But he didn’t do that. He didn’t even let me finish my apology. He met me on the way and he wasn’t angry—he was laughing! How about that? He was laughing.
His words were similar to the ones heard so long ago in the story told by Jesus. He said that he had missed me and the time we spent together. He assured me of my place at home and, as silly as it sounds, at home with the Father we had a party.
Perhaps you have been away from home lately. Perhaps you were busy about the Father’s business and just didn’t have time to spend with him. Perhaps you were worried that he wouldn’t forgive you or accept you. Maybe you wondered if he even remembered you because it’s been so long. It could be that you were afraid that he wouldn’t be there.
I have some good news. He’s there. I checked. You go on home because home is where the love is.
Time to Draw Away
Read Zephaniah 3:17 & Luke 15:11-32
Like the earthly father who gleefully welcomed his wayward son home, so our heavenly Father delights in us when we return to our home with him. If you’ve been gone for a while, don’t stay away. Whatever has come between you and your Father can be overcome…and is already covered by his grace. Go back home. Talk to him. Let him speak to you. He loves you more than you could ever imagine. In fact, there is nothing you can do to get God to love you one iota more than he already does and there is nothing you can do to get God to love you one iota less. Allow him to show you once again.
Steve has more to say on assurance in two of his blogs…