The Way Back
August 1, 2023
“But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13, NIV).
His lymphoma was responding well to treatment. As he left the room, he pointed to the cross on my lapel and said, “Since you’ve got this, I can tell you. I’ve found my way back.”
“Tell me about it,” I said.
“I’ve been lost for some time,” he said. “A buddy, who’s been through hell himself and found his way back, called me and helped me. He sent me daily reminders. I found my way back to God, and it has been wonderful.”
We all, at some time in our lives, need to find our way back.
“Prone to wander; Lord, I feel it…” as Robert Robinson wrote in “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way…” (NIV).
And Luke 15:13 says, “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country…” (NIV).
I suspect that most of us reading this devotion have loved our Lord at some time, just as the prodigal who left home at one time likely loved his father. Some of us have drifted pretty far, like the young man in Luke 15.
The rest of us, at some time and perhaps even now, have let pieces of our life drift away from God’s will. It may be toward an activity that our Father frowns upon, or a relationship that is outside His blessing, or a passion that dilutes our passion for Him, or a mission that is not the one He has chosen. We think we can deeply desire opposing treasures and not split our hearts in two. Deep down we know we have distanced our relationship with the One who wants our undivided heart. As Dr. Richard Swenson reminded us, “Today, if you are trying to keep one foot in the world and one foot in God’s kingdom, you’re going to develop a serious groin strain.”
Whatever the cause of the separation, God wants us back. He stands with open arms, running toward us, like the father of the prodigal. All it takes from us is surrender. “Wrapped up in scarlet kindness, He welcomes the sinner home,” as Hillsong United wrote in the song “A Street Called Mercy.”
Many of us, at this time in our lives, are close to the Lord, only separated by an imperfect nature that He is gradually transforming. We have not left our Lord in major ways. We do not need to “find our way back” from significant distance—not now anyway. So, it’s our time to be the “buddy” who reaches out and helps a friend come home, like the buddy who took the risk and reached out to my patient, the buddy who called and reminded until the lost one found his way back.
Keep me close. Let me stay at your side in surrender. Show me the friend I need to help back home.