With a stroke of the keyboard and the flash of a camera, life changes.
When our children acquire the long-awaited driver’s permit, our driving habits transform into a 3-ring circus. We become spectators on the sideline. We scan our surroundings for wild, untamed things lurking in the shadows and erratic clowns who appear from nowhere.
Our mom-job changes, too, because we are no longer chauffeurs, have fewer opportunities for therapy-like conversations, and spend more time on the phone discussing purchases because only our credit cards are permitted on shopping trips.
Allowing children a legal license to control a 2-ton moving metal box leads me to question the sanity of those in authority. Does anyone consider the potential danger of putting raging hormones in the driver’s seat?
Yet it happens daily as the new driver turns a key in the ignition and speeds away from home without looking back.
And it doesn’t matter how many hours your child spends in behind-the-wheel instruction, nothing prepares you for the angst you feel as he drives solo for the first time. As you watch your newly-licensed baby drive the family car unaccompanied, the only thing you can do is standby–comfortless–on the curb of despair.
Parents understand what’s lurking in the shadows because we have been around the block a few times. We visualize the potential hazards in the road ahead. But, the time comes when the good and bad memories of waiting in a carpool line fade away from the rearview mirror.
My children learned to drive before they owned a smartphone or GPS. Whenever they wanted to go somewhere (and they always did), they asked for directions.
More alarming than watching them drive alone, was discovering how unfamiliar my children were with the location of the places we frequented– the mall, a friend’s home, or a doctor’s office. After 16 years of riding shotgun, they needed detailed directions before they grabbed the car keys and left.
Despite their lack of knowledge of our city’s streets, my children never needed directions to return home. Something always led them home; an innate Guide showed them the way.
There is enormous security in knowing your way home– the place where someone is awaiting your return, and you feel loved.
Loving parents wait with the lights on and arms open. They listen for the sound of the key unlatching the lock before the swinging of a squeaky front door.
The ability to return home is a gift.
While we wait, our children are experiencing the taste of freedom gained from driving. It is an undeniable and irresistible force that leads them away from home. Under its influence, they flee into the great unknown. And this driving force might be the vehicle that takes them on a wonderful, new adventure along roads possessing breathtaking views and extraordinary people.
But when they are ready to return, their longing for home will be the force that whips the car around and drives them toward us–the ones who love them and watch for their arrival.
Our children need to know there is always a road that leads them home.
When the time is right, they will yearn for the sound of familiar voices, the delight of a home-cooked meal, and the peace from sleeping in their childhood bed(room). These comforts become the driving force that will lead our children back to us–and the reasons they won’t need to ask for directions.
The love we offer is the light they will look for when they escape the circus-like distractions and turn into the driveway with a longing for family.
A return to family and friends is what we wish for our prodigals. We leave the lights on and keep our arms open in anticipation of the day they decide to follow the nudging of their inner Guide and come home.
Our Creator embedded the helix of our DNA with a hungering for home. He is the Guide who perfectly satisfies the craving to return where we belong. The earthly pleasures we seek are imitations of what’s waiting for us in our heavenly home: sweet fellowship, joyous reunions, and the love of our Father’s arms.
God beckons our hearts to return to Him. He waits with us for our children to return home, too. The Creator longs for the created.
When our prodigals choose to return to the Lord, the doors of heaven will swing wide, a feast will accompany the homecoming, and we will rejoice at the idea of sharing life together forever.
Under Heaven’s Big Top, the love of God is the driving force that beckons us all to return home.
“ What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!” (Psalm 84:1-2, MSG)
Waiting with you,