Tonight I stopped by my parents' house to get a few things and had to use my old house key. I'll never forget when I got this house key. As a child of the 80s, I was a part of that sector of pre-teens known as the "latch key kids". We were those emerging children of the single mom or two-working-parent households who had to get off the bus and let ourselves in to an empty home. Getting your very own house key was a sort of rite of passage. And I could hardly wait.
I was in the 5th grade. Valentine's Day. My mom gave me a heart-shaped coin purse and a Salt-n-Peppa CD. I still can't believe she got me that CD. Sucker. And, yes, I can still rap every single word to Shoop. Every. Single. Word. Attached to the coin purse was a key ring, and hanging from it was my very own house key. I was FINALLY old enough to stay home by myself after school.
I can't recall the exact feelings. It was probably a mixture of pride and anxiety all bundled up in the pit of my gut. I'm sure the first few days of letting myself into the hollow space was unnerving, but I soon got used to just being there. All by myself. In the unwavering refuge of home.
That brick house on East Noel Drive was my solace for two decades. It's crazy to think that I've already been gone from the comfort of those walls for nearly thirteen years. It's even crazier to think that I've somehow managed to keep up with this original key to its door, having lost, forgotten and misplaced so many far more valuable things. But even now, when I turn that old key and step in, the familiarity envelopes me, the old smells and sounds wash over me, and I know that I'm home.
What about you? When was the last time you went home? Home to your Father's house. Perhaps you fell in love with Jesus at Vacation Bible School. Or maybe you were like me, and it was during the third stanza of "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus". And the years have gone by. And the hurts have stacked up. And you feel like too much time has passed for you to walk though those doors again.
Listen to me, sweet reader. You still have that old house key, and the banquet table has been set. So, come home. Come home to your Father's house. Your anxiety is palatable, I'm sure. The fear of persecution, or at the very least, the fear of hushed whispers and sideways glances in reaction to your presence there, is very real for you. But I urge you to surrender to that insatiable pull that draws you back to your roots, to the Jesus of your childhood, to the comforts of home.
In time, the familiar memory of those smells and those sounds and those feelings will come back to you. Perhaps they will return to their rightful place in a slow drip. Or maybe they will hit you like a spiritual tidal wave. Either way, you're a child of God, and you know it. So just stop. Stop trying to out run, out hide, out wait your Father's love for you. Because you can't do it. His arms are open. Waiting. And the rest of us, this body of messed up believers, we are waiting for you, too.