Time To Come Home!
Those were the days. The days when we weren't always so careful to lock our house doors, or put our kids in car seats with 5-point harnesses, or track them with our GPS devices everywhere they went. The days we didn't check for GMOs, prefer free-range eggs, or put child safety devices on our cabinets and baby gates near our steps. The days my mother would send me and my siblings out to freely roam our neighborhood to play with friends, explore, and get dirty - with no adult supervision (except for neighbors who were glad to let each other know when their kids weren't behaving on the streets).
My mother never worried and trusted us as long as we watched for these two simple cues, indicating it was time to come home.
1) Watch for the lights. The street lights, that is. As it is in most neighborhoods, our street lights would turn on right about at dusk. When the lights came on, we knew the sun was setting and the day was done. She didn't want us out there roaming around in the darkness.
2) Listen for the bell. The giant school bell, that is. You know, one of those old-fashioned ones that you have to hold with two hands as you move it up and down in front of you. It wasn't a small, quiet one. It was a large, resounding instrument. My mother would open our side door just off the garage and ring that thing so loud that even our neighbors down the street knew when it was time for the VonDran kids to come home.
When I look back, I'm so thankful for a mom that was careful to make sure her kids were safe and sound at the end of the day.
And God is careful with His kids, too, as He sees some of them out there roaming the "streets." But, these kids may have no intention of ever returning back to the Father. They are among those who have left His house of safety and decided that they'd rather live a life away from their Dad, than with Him. They are like the Prodigal Son (Luke 15).
- Some have stormed out of the house. They are angry with their Father. They have misunderstood His ways and have stomped out the door refusing to believe a word He says anymore.
- Others have been chased away. They listened to the voice of fear and condemnation for so long that they stopped feeling like they had a place in His house. They believed the lies rather than the Shepherd's truth. So they sadly and silently slipped out, hoping no one would notice.
- And others just got curious, maybe even bored. Maybe they had never left the house before in their whole life. His home was all they ever knew. His bread was all they ever ate. His wine was all they ever drank. And they became fascinated with the outside world, like Eve was mesmerized by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3). They let temptation take over and found themselves being lead away. They thought the world would somehow better satisfy them.
But the Father sees it all. His eye is on the sparrow. And though He knows He can not force His children to come home, it doesn't mean He doesn't do what my mother did for us.
He pulls out His bell and starts ringing!
He tells the street lights to shine brighter as the ringing echoes throughout the land. His Voice can be heard from one street to the next, calling for His children as He cries,
"Come home, kids! Come home!
I'm not angry. I'm not holding a grudge!
I only want you here with Me! I love you so deeply! Deeper than you know!
Can you hear them?
The bells of heaven are ringing just for you!
It's time to stop roaming the streets. The DAY is almost done!
It’s time to COME HOME!"