Welcome Home! by Terry Tieman
There is no greater feeling than welcoming home family! We experienced that in a profound way this past weekend. After serving on the mission field in Asia for three years, my oldest son, Nick, his wife, Ashley, and their almost one year old son, Christopher, arrived in Memphis this past weekend. As you can tell from our smiling faces, we were thrilled to see them!
And yet, as great as our joy was in seeing our son and his family after such a long absence, I’m sure it pales in comparison to the joy that our Heavenly Father experiences when He welcomes His children home. Consider, for example, this story from a colleague of mine:
“A few years ago, I was huddled with a group of men in a mountain cabin for a planning and goal setting retreat. At the beginning of the meeting the leader asked each of the nine men gathered to share about what we had been learning about being dads. It was a most unusual question for a group of men to talk with one another about. However, as each man took his turn to discuss what he had been learning about being a father, tears welled up in their eyes. All nine men began to cry when they talked about their kids. Some were going through very challenging seasons of parenting while others were enjoying times of pure delight. But one thing was apparent to all of us…these men loved their children. The depth of emotion that was displayed was quite extraordinary and it left a deep imprint upon my mind and heart. For a few brief moments I had a glimpse of how God must feel about His children.” (Excerpt from Prayer: The First Step in Reaching Your Community, by Dwight Marable.)
No doubt God loves us, His children, very, very much! After all, He sent His only true Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on the cross to pay for our sins. What’s more, He actually chose us personally to be His sons and daughters before the world even began. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoptions as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph. 1:4,5).
Do we have a great family, or what? We have a Father who loves us, even to the point of sacrificing His one and only true Son to die for us. We have a Brother who gave His very life for us on the cross, and we have God’s Spirit who has given us the gift of faith, as well as the power to live out that faith every day. And part of living out that faith is sharing it with others.
In middle-Eastern countries, it is customary for the child to greet the father in the morning by the kissing of his hand, and following this, to stand before him in an attitude of humility, ready to receive any order, or waiting for permission to depart. Even as children of God, we stand humbly before Him as He instructs us with this invitation, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” I.e., our heavenly Father wants all of His children to spend eternity with Him in heaven, and He has given us the opportunity and privilege to share that good news with them, so that He can say to them, as I recently said to my son, “Welcome Home”!