you can’t go home again

that’s what “they” say, but today I put this hypothesis to the test and tried anyway. I went back after a year and seven months. I went back wondering what I would find after such a long absence – but I went back nonetheless. I returned to the gym, my gym. COVID had closed my gym in March of 2020, along with all the other gyms and everything else. But while my gym had eventually reopened, I had stayed away. Why had it taken me so long to return?

The longer I stayed away, the larger my fears of what a return would be like, loomed in my mind. This gym had become my “Cheers” over the years – filled with familiar faces and friendly smiles – we knew each others’ names – we knew each others’ stories. Now what would I find? Better just to remember my gym as it had been – right? Also, the longer I stayed away, the more “unfit” I felt I was becoming. Would they recognize me? Would anyone even remember me? Would I be able to keep up with the routines of the aerobics class I had attended for so long?

These were questions I could not answer and so I stayed away. Until today – today I decided to return home, so to speak. I realized that the longer I wait to return to my gym, the more out of shape I will continue to become. Nothing is going to change until I decide to “go home again.” You can bet I felt a little like the prodigal son who returned home after his long absence. He did not know what to expect, but he found his home and his family still there and he was given a warm welcome. So was I!

There were still familiar faces and they still knew my name. The gym is still my “Cheers” after all. Ok, so the routines were all new and the music, too. I was a little lost trying to keep up during class and I will be more than a little sore by tomorrow, I’m sure. But you can go home again, dear readers! I’m so glad I did. I’m glad I didn’t stay away any longer. The reunion with old friends was joyfilled and oh so sweet. There were some faces missing, it is inevitable in an everchanging world. But home is the place that holds their memories intact. Home is where their memories live. I’m so glad I went home again, now that I see all that I would have missed by not daring to return home.

I feel like I do this very same thing with my Heavenly Father. I’m a wanderer, so I do what wanderers do – I wander – I leave home. I leave for that grass that’s always greener somewhere else. I leave in search of some unnamed something that I feel I must be missing and have to find. I leave, lured away by vague promises of riches or success or excitement. I leave – then one day I wake up to find myself far from anything familiar and I’m not sure how to find my way home. In fact, I believe there is no way home. So I stay away. I stay because I believe the lie that I cannot go home again. I believe the lie that I am no longer welcome there. I believe the lie that I would not be forgiven – cannot be forgiven. I believe the lie that I have gone too far to return home. I believe the lie that there is no longer a place for me in my Heavenly Father’s house.

And the truth is – those are all lies – everyone of them is a lie. There is a place for me. It is being prepared for me even now. My Heavenly Father is waiting for me to come home. And He will wait as long as is necessary. Jesus said so. In John 14:2-3 Jesus said,

“In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

My Heavenly Father is both preparing for and anxiously awaiting my arrival home. I read in 2 Peter 3:9,

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God is like the father in the story of the prodigal son. That father was always on the lookout for, always waiting for, always ready to receive his lost son, who had wandered away, ending up far from home – but the father was still there, whenever he should return home. We read about the son’s coming home again in Luke 15:17-24,

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘ . . . I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

We most certainly can go home again, dear readers. The prodigal son did and he was welcomed with open arms. You and I will be, too. As many times as I wander away, I can always go home to my Heavenly Father again and again. He says in Isaiah 1:18,

” ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ”

“Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, Weak and wounded, sick and sore; Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, love and power. I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in His arms; In the arms of my dear Savior, O there are ten thousand charms.” (old hymn)

the door is open, the fire lit, the table set, the lights are on to show the way, the Father stands ready, with arms open wide, wide enough to receive all who desire to come home once again,

sincerely, Grace Day

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