Once upon a time I had a dream I was a young princess in a castle. The large, pristine, grey-stoned castle lay high upon a hill encircled by a high stone wall. When I looked from my window past the wall I could see meadows of green skirting down to a river bank and across the river a very large town. These were the people in my dad’s kingdom.
These were people he loved and served and watched over but my dad said I could not go there alone because it could be dangerous. However, occasionally he would walk me through the town on his shoulders. He was so much taller than every one else that resting upon him I could see everything. The people all acknowledged his presence by parting humbly and bowing as he passed by. He seemed to know everyone by name as he often paused to speak to them. The police officer. The baker. Everyone. Countless people smiled at him as he greeted them by name. He was much loved.
In the light of day, perched high above them or nestled at his side nothing seemed scary or dangerous.
And one day I decided to take off to town… alone.
The music, people and busy streets beckoned me as I glided by unseen past the lovely storefronts. For the first little bit I kept a constant watch over my shoulder to make sure I could see my way home. I just was going to stay for a brief time and then I had planned on hurrying home before he noticed my absence but as I gazed with delight at the unknowns, time slipped by quickly and mid-morning past and when I looked back again I could not see my home. That’s when I noticed it was dark and that the light that now shrouded me was from the now lit lamps along the street.
Afraid, I realized I was lost. I turned around hoping to get a glimpse of home or see a familiar place but I just seemed to be jostled about now by grown-ups in a hurry to get somewhere and not in the mood to answer a child’s question or even see the tears that had began running down my face.
I tried and tried to reach out to anyone who didn’t seem scary but all to no avail. I was just about to find a quiet place to hole up and cry when I heard a police whistle down the street. Suddenly I recalled my fathers acquaintance with some of the officers. Taking off at a run I saw him when I rounded the corner and running up to him I tapped his back hoping it was someone who would recognize me and could help me.
When he turned around relief flooded over me for here was the policeman who had spoken at length with my father just days before. Kneeling beside me he looked at my now dirty and tear-stained face yet he recognized me from when he had seen me with my dad. Calling to a friend he asked him to ring the king.
Yet even as he walked me out of the alley to wait, I saw my father’s head above the crowd and rushing in he swept me up and held me close. Then drawing back he looked me in the eyes with a discipling glance that saw my regret and quickly translated to love. Heaving me back onto his shoulders he thanked the officer for his care. Turning he then set our course for home.
My soul felt safe as it looked through the dimming day in my father’s care. When I finally caught sight of the lights upon the hill my heart took flight. I was home.
I was as foolish as my father was wise yet he had carried me step by step up the hill humming and smiling up at me as if I had done nothing wrong. I felt free, safe and loved in his arms.
That’s when I realized that this was the only part of the adventure I could not have lived without. I was with me dad.
The gates were parting before him as we passed through the stone walls entrance. I was home. We were home. This was my reality.
It is so easy for the enemy to convince us we are missing something. As children of the King we begin to think our journeys apart from Him will yield the same blessings and results as they did when we walked in Him. We think we are equipped. We think His Spirit will cover us even in our disobedience but that is a lie straight from hell.
Only the time spent abiding in Him and following Him can ensure we do not get lost in the shuffle that is our every day to day life. I can go to the same place, with the same people but I will have a very different experience if my Father is not with me. Without protection and wisdom I am left to my own defenses and am undone and easy prey. The choice is still mine however, do I stop and turn or press on with my best efforts. I am sad to report that I have lived out both options repeatedly in my fifty plus years. What I can tell you is that regardless of how old this daughter has been ANYTIME I stopped, turned and repented God has been there to sweep me up and gather what ‘is’ and return it to it’s glory. For great is the love the Father has lavished onto us that He would call us His children. That He would prepare a place for us. That He would delight in our desire to be where He abides.
In retrospect I can look back into my past struggles, fears and falls and spy my misdirected heart or self-directed wisdom and will, and admit I have been the prodigal at various seasons of my life.
I can also state in full assurance that the believer has a Father who is never moved nor undone by our choices although His heart yearns and eagerly watches for our return. A prayer into the chaos. A cry into the dark. A halting on the path and a turn toward home and Him and He will draw near and carry you home.
Today, each day, we choose where we will abide. Those choices will lead us away from or toward our Father’s favor and love.
One day we will have our last day in this kingdom and cast our eyes toward our eternity. For the child of God what lies ahead will be sweeter than any day previously lived.
For those of us who remain, we cling to the unfailing love of the Father, the reward promised to the faithful and the Word that says as His adopted heirs we are jointed with the Son. Heaven is our homeland, prepared for us and our ultimate destination.
Those believers who have gone ahead have left a legacy. Their love, their lives were a reflection of God’s faithfulness, goodness and glory. Did they burn bright? Were their lamps full? Will their testimony go forward? I can’t speak for another. I only have control over the one light the Father has entrusted to me. As His child each day I choose what I will do with that lamp. Will I bear His glory in obedience or willfully step out on my own? Will I choose to live apart from Him and get comfortable on my own merit or will I abandon what I think and fell for what I KNOW? My choices and days will one day bear proof of whom I love and who I follow and where I will live eternally just like those who have passed on home.
I know this, that our identity in Christ will make our Father more real and present OR cause Him and heaven to appear like unnecessary weights and burdens.
I know my husband’s relationship with the Lord drew people toward God. I have no question of Whose he was or where he is. Young and old alike, if they knew Lenny since he surrendered his life in 1993, they knew of his love for Christ. The work of God was evident in him. He was the son of the King. Lenny was loved and favored by man and by his Father.
He brought Jesus down so close that even our grandkids do not have a problem speaking to God. Trusting God. I was reminded of this Monday night when Madilyn (our four year old grand-daughter) prayed before we laid down, “God, we miss Pa and are sad because we love him very much but we know he is heaven. He was so funny (and she laughed). And one day we will go to heaven and see You and Pa. But we really miss him and want to see him if you could bring him back for a lil’ visit. Amen!” :0)
Faith like a child is what will keep you. That knowledge that you are His is what will remind you that you are heard and loved. It will draw you back when you have wandered. And that same faith will sustain you as you wait to join those who have gone ahead.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-3
Thank you Father for your love and faithfulness. Thank you Lenny for pursuing a heart like His. We’ll see you soon. Don’t forget your Tim Conway faces and antics we are all ready to walk, serve and laugh alongside you once again.