We are all on a journey. What is particularly ironic about the journey is that we spend most of our lives trying to get back where we started. We spend most of our lives trying to fulfill our deepest longing, the desire to be home, truly home.
If you think about the journey as beginning with an earthy mother and father, you’re right, of course. But I’d suggest you start farther back. God assures us that he knew us even before we were formed in our mothers’ wombs and that the gift of life comes directly from his hand.
When we are physically born, we are born for sure with the sinful nature that will one day cause us to go our own way and sin against our Father, but we nonetheless arrive in the most sinless, innocent, pure, and trusting condition we humans will ever know here.
No wonder Jesus tells us that unless we become as trusting, loving, and pure as little children, we can’t enter the kingdom of heaven. We grow up and spend most of our lives trying to regain that purity and innocence and loving trust in our Father. We spend our lives trying to regain the capacity for joy and delight and spontaneity that little children are filled with. Maybe we adults feel that loss more than we realize. Maybe that’s one reason we have such a deep longing to be children again in our true home.
Where is our real home? Home is where the Father is. Our longing for home is all wrapped up in our longing to be with the Father. When we see in our human fathers what is best, we’re led to long even more to be with the best Father of all. When we see in our human fathers deep weakness, we’re led to long even more to be wrapped up in the arms of the best Father. We might not put it that way, but the longing is there. We want to find our way home, home to the Father.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples are distressed as he has been talking about leaving them. In the fourteenth chapter, he assures them, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, and I’m going to prepare a place for you so that one day I’ll come and take you to be with me where I am” (Shelburne translation).
Then Jesus says, “And you know the way to the place where I am going.” That’s when Thomas, whose love for the Lord was second to none and who was unwilling to endure the perplexity any longer, absolutely boils over: “Lord, what are you talking about? We don’t know where you’re going, so how in the whole wide world can you expect us to know the way?!”
“Oh, Thomas, you do know the way, because you know me, and I am the way.”
How do we get home, home to the Father? We follow the One who is the Way to the Father, and, walking with us all along the journey, he leads us home.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org