I don’t have the guts to say, that was then that was then, and this is now.
But I know I should come back and I keep telling God He’s wrong.
This day. This text is when I realized one of the only things more painful and more humbling and harder than staying, is coming back.
So whoever you are, hear me when I say, coming back might be the bravest thing you ever do.
I keep picturing those running scenes in movies (embarrassingly right now I can only think of Bella running through the woods, but that’s neither here nor there) and thinking about the camera placement. There are some scenes where the camera is focused in from the front of the runner. It shows the intense stance and movement of the running, and it probably shows them running on a track. The only running scenes that are shot from the front are when someone is running to something, to victory, to success, to the love they left at the beginning of the movie. But when people in movies are running from something, they are always shot from behind.
Why this is I don’t know exactly, except for maybe to catch the look in their eyes when they look back. Because they always look back.
Some of us run eyes straight ahead fueled by the hurt of what we are running from…but I really believe most of us run looking over our shoulders. We’ve convinced ourselves we should go and that no one cares, but hope is less fragile than we think and it lives beneath the bitterness. I know this because no matter how far we run we are hoping that when we look over our shoulder we’ll see someone behind us.
And when we don’t see anyone there we decide that’s reason enough to not come back. So we keep running.
Maybe it is, maybe you’re right. Maybe they-whoever they are- don’t deserve you to come back. Or maybe the mess you left behind you isn’t the kind that will get swept under the rug with time. But let me just say, if you decide some to come back, someone will be waiting. Let me say it again, someone will be waiting.
It just might not be who you’re expecting.
If you’re a runner there’s a runner in Luke 15. And we like to call him the prodigal son. He ran from home, from love, from his family. And when the prodigal son realized his life away from home was terribly sad and lonely, Luke says ‘he came to his senses’. You might not be there yet, or maybe you’re still fighting that voice, that sense that’s saying, it’s time to go home, telling God He’s wrong. But when the son came to his senses, he went, and when he did the light on the porch was still on.
The light on the porch was on.
The door was propped open with anticipation.
But his father wasn’t on the porch-he was running towards him running towards him with open arms.
One of the best things about knowing Jesus is knowing that your father is always waiting ready with open arms for you to jump into them, when you’re ready. He doesn’t pester us, or even chase us-because he knows us. He knows we’ve got to come to our senses before we will jump into His arms.
But I’ve got to be honest with you here. Not everyone was excited. You might be there too, and you might be pretty upset about it because you did come back. You wanted the party and light left on for you, but no one seemed to care. No one seemed too excited. Well, the prodigal son’s brother wasn’t all that excited either. He actually said, “Why are we throwing your son a party?”
This happens in real life too. He’s a brother, he’s a son, he’s a child; and children don’t always understand. If your brothers hurt you, I’m so sorry. But that doesn’t mean the party isn’t happening. We cannot pick community as our treasure over Jesus, because it will fail us sometimes, and there will be times where our brothers don’t greet us when we decide to come home.
If you do in fact go back home, don’t miss the party your Father is trying to throw you because you’re looking for your brother to celebrate your return.
I imagine after the party was over the two brothers had some real talks to have. They had to some time to heal. And they had some work to do. That’s realistic I think and when you come back things will probably look a little different. That’s not reason enough to stay away.
Now it shouldn’t go unsaid there are people and places and things you should never go back to. We all know the difference between going back home and going back somewhere we knew we should have never been to begin with, and that text that day left me thinking maybe sometimes we can go back. And when we do we’re not supposed to say “that was then this is now”. We’re supposed to say (or allowed to say), this is now, and it hurts. It still hurts.
After all this time you thought you’d be healed up but when you stepped on the doorstep of that familiar place it all came rumbling into you like the nightmares we try to leave on our pillows. Because coming back to the mess you thought you escaped, stepping back into the pain you know is waiting for you, that’s scary. But maybe that’s exactly right.
The more times you step through that door, the more you brave that room, the easier it will get. I promise.