[Special Note: This was originally written fourteen years ago when our son was away at college. He and his wife and two boys are away from us, but will come in for Christmas. We are with our daughter for Thanksgiving. This old article means even more, now, than it did then! I hope you are blessed with family this week, and if not, I pray truly that God's Spiritual family will fold you in its arms.]
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. My Father’s house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going" (John 14:1-4 TNIV, spoken by Jesus).
In just a few hours, he will be coming home. His room is ready, the plans are made, the waiting is nearly done. But, it's different being on this end of things. I've been the one who has traveled and returned home. I remember the joy of being home after a long trip. I never really thought that much about being on the waiting end, the longing end, of a returning child. It is an impatient wait, a restless anticipation of a greater joy.
It's not like we haven't seen each other in a long time! It's just that I miss him not being here. I'm happy for him — the friends he has made, the work he has done, the life he has built. But he has been away from me, and home is not quite the same without him. I'm anxious to have him here to enjoy the holidays — a traditional Thanksgiving meal, football, a little shopping, and just buddying around. But most of all, I am anxious to have him here with me. Home will seem a little more like home with him here.
This waiting has given me a new appreciation for a side of heaven I had never imagined. I think now about my waiting Father. He sent his Son. He watched as his Son bore great indignities and death. He has seen him triumph over the grave. He rejoiced as the Son poured out the Spirit. He has celebrated with the angels as millions have shared in the Son's death and resurrection through faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. But now he waits. He lives in the world of expectation, anticipating the Great Feast when all of his children come home to be with him and to share in this great thanksgiving of joy.
I guess I've sung "Lord come quickly, Hallelujah!" thousands of times. In all those times, I've never thought about how the Father hears it; how he hears our hearts being homesick for a place we've never been before. I know he longs for the day of homecoming and reunion, too. He yearns for the day that our faith becomes sight and we can see him face to face in all his glory. He anticipates the day when he will receive us as his fully adopted children. Unlike us, the Father knows when that day will occur, but he doesn't let anyone else know. It's his surprise! The only reason he waits is so that our feast can be bigger and his banquet hall will be full of children. But I now imagine that it is hard for him to wait to have me home.
Until that day, every time I wait for my children to come home, I will remember that I have a waiting Father, too. This Father is happy for me — the friends I have made, the work I have done, the life I have built. After all, these gifts have really come from him. I know he is anxious to have me home to enjoy the celebration with him. I know my Brother Jesus has prepared a room for me in the Father's house. I know the day of going home, the day of great thanksgiving, will come. Most of all, I now realize that he is even more excited than I am, for me to come home. I can even imagine that occasionally, as he hears me sing "Jesus is Lord," he sings back to me, "Child, come home quickly, Hallelujah!"