The Way Back Home

The Way Back Home.  But the way back home from where?  And to where?  I first wrote this one back on October 25, 2013. I cried when I wrote it. It still makes me cry. Even when I hear this song now, it’s got a whole added meaning to it beyond the obvious words.  And today, March 3, 2021, I’m publishing it again. 

The way back home.  The question is - which home?

You know how we never know when God’s got something to tell us?  Well, I was on my way to the store just to pick up some groceries I ordered online.  This song comes on.  While it’s playing, the thought comes to me that it’s time to add a little something.  And here it is:  For those of you who have kids, even if you know for sure exactly where they are right this second – do your kids know the way back home?  Not to your home – but “home” in the sense I write about below.

With that thought in mind, here’s my version of what “home” can and should mean to all of us.  Not just our physical home.  And that’s assuming we even have one.  But to the Home waiting for us.


There are far too many people in this world that are helping God’s children get lost.

Too many kids are missin’
Is anybody listening?
Won’t you be the children’s eyes
They’re all alone
The hardest part’s not knowing
Where they are or where they’re going
Won’t you help the children find
The way back home

God knows where His children are –

but those lost ones – they don’t know where they are themselves – and they don’t know where they’re going either.

God’s asking us to be the eyes of those lost children – He’s asking us to help them find their way back home – to Him.


The Way Back Home – Introduction

There are a couple ways to read this post.
One is from the point of view of the person who is already a Christian.
The other is from the point of view of someone who is looking for God.

The reality is, both are searching for their true “home”.

And now, in the March 2021 update, I’m adding a third way. The view of a parent, looking at their child(ren).

The first one is on The Way. [1]The Way is what Jesus’ followers in the early church called their group.  Today, we call them Christians.

Even someone on The Way, a Christian, is still having problems. Still needing guidance from God. They are loved by Jesus, but forgiven, because they asked for that forgiveness.

The second is looking for The Way.

The person who’s not yet on The Way, not yet a Christian, is also having problems. Also needing guidance from God. And yes, they are also loved by Jesus. In these ways, not entirely different. However, they do not yet have forgiveness, because they haven’t asked. They may not even know they can ask.

The third is a child who may or may not know anything about The Way.

If you’re the parent of a child, this third one is your child. Or maybe your children.

Like the others, your child is loved by God. As are you. But, up to a certain age, they only know what you’ve taught them or led them to experience. After that, they learn from all sorts of places. However, for something so critical, are you sure they know the truth about The Way? And the importance of following Jesus?

The Way Back Home – A Question

Before you read it though, here’s a question. I said above that those in all three of the viewpoints are loved by Jesus. Do you believe this?

If you’re the Christian, I expect you believe it.

If you’re not – you maybe don’t believe it.

Maybe you think you’ve done something so bad that Jesus couldn’t possibly love you. But He does.

Maybe you don’t even believe in Jesus. And maybe you don’t even care if He loves you. But He does.

Take a look at the example from Mark 10:17-27 below. This is a man who wanted to follow Jesus, but on his own terms, not the way Jesus wanted. This man ends up walking away from Jesus. At least at this time. We don’t know if he ever returns or changes his mind.

The Rich Young Man

10:17-31 pp — Mt 19:16-30; Lk 18:18-30

Mk 10:17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Mk 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’’”

Mk 10:20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Mk 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Mk 10:22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Mk 10:23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

Mk 10:24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Mk 10:26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

Mk 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Mk 10:28 Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”

Mk 10:29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Did you catch the part in verse 21 – Jesus looked at him and loved him. This is someone who is rejecting Jesus – and Jesus still loves Him.
Like I said, it doesn’t matter what we’ve done – He still loves us.

There’s another thing here as well.  It’s something I assumed would be recognized, but have come to realize that I should have explicitly pointed it out.  It’s something we probably would not do ourselves.  When someone rejects us, maybe we write them off, so to speak.  They reject us, so we reject them.

Not so with Jesus.  We can reject Him, but He still loves us.  If we change our minds and want to go to Him – He’s more than ready to welcome us.  I read someplace, and I believe it’s true, that God is more ready to welcome us than we are to accept Him.  That’s not the way we would generally act towards someone else, so we probably don’t expect it from anyone else.  Maybe we even expect it less from God, because of things we’ve heard. about Him.  But He really does welcome us – even welcome us back – over and over.  As long as we’re alive, He’s waiting for us.  I know.  I’ve done it.  And so has He.

Does God want us to help people find the way back home to Him?

And here’s a question for the Christian readers.
Do you know what our task is here? Hint: Consider this from Hebrews 12, especially the first two verses, but really all of it.

Warning Against Refusing God

Heb 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

Heb 12:18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

Heb 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Heb 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Heb 12:28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

As the title implies – this has to do with helping people (ourselves included) to find the way back home. We cannot do this if people don’t want anything to do with us. And also remember – it’s not actually “us” doing anything. The man in Mark 10 – by himself, he couldn’t get back home to the kingdom of God. Jesus said that could only be done with God. Translation: it’s not done by us either! It’s done by God. Our only involvement is to let people know that we are all loved by God. Period. End of discussion. The rest is up to Him.

However, even after saying all that – should we not want to try? In the early church, they spoke with complete strangers. How much more should we want to spread the Good News of The Gospel to friends and family, and especially to our own children?

As you read this, you’ll see the direct message is to Christians. What we should be doing to help the children find their way back home. Yes, to all children, because all are welcome to be children of God. And given that, shouldn’t we also care about our own children? Making sure they can earn a good living, have a comfortable life, Etc. is small consolation if they don’t know Jesus and can’t find their way back home to God!

If you’re one of the many people who are still looking for The Way, this is God’s message to you. He loves you. And He wants you to find your way back to Him. On top of that, He’s placed people here to help you. I wish I could say that everyone who claims to be a Christian knows how to help. Unfortunately, as the one sentence above points out – this isn’t always true.

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

The fact that this is in the Bible is a warning to all of us that God already knows this statement is necessary. So, if you’re looking for the way back home, please pray to Jesus, who loves you, to help you find someone that really truly will lead you to the way back home.

And while we’re at it, we cannot, must not, forget our own children. We tend to think of saving people as being for a pastor or a missionary in some foreign country. But hey – it starts right in our own homes!

Also Remember, Jesus is waiting for us to sincerely ask. He will answer.
As Jesus said in Rev 3:20, to the Church in Laodicea that receive the worst of the seven letters in Revelation:

To the Church in Laodicea

Rev 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Rev 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Rev 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Jesus is knocking – all we need to do is answer His knock.

Please keep everything above in mind as you read the rest.

I’ve had this electronic sticky note on my PC for quite a while now to write about Vince Gill’s song – The Way Back Home.

Yesterday afternoon (back in 2013) – I felt like it’s time – time to write about it.
It’s a song about children who have been taken away from their parents – and can’t find the way back home.
It’s the kind of song that gets right to your heart – at least it does mine.

But after something that happened yesterday and the book I was reading last night, it does even more so.
If you don’t know the song, or even if you do, I invite you to check it out.

Get some kleenex first.
Now – here’s a You Tube link to a slide show that someone put together to go with it.  

Here are the words so you can follow along –

A little girl was cryin’ For her mama and her daddy She couldn’t understand why they were gone She never knew the danger Of talking to a stranger Now the girl can’t find her way back home

A little boy went walkin’ Down to the corner market To buy a loaf of bread and an ice cream cone He never knew the danger Of talkin’ to a stranger Now the boy can’t find the way back home

Too many kids are missin’ Is anybody listening? Won’t you be the children’s eyes They’re all alone The hardest part’s not knowing Where they are or where they’re going Won’t you help the children find The way back home

The faces on milk cartons Thrown away and soon forgotten What if one of those sweet kids Was your very own

Tonight those kids are weeping While yours are safely sleeping Won’t you help the children find The way back home

Too many kids are missin’ Is anybody listening? Won’t you be the children’s eyes They’re all alone The hardest part’s not knowing Where they are or where they’re going Won’t you help the children find The way back home

Won’t you help the children find The way back home.  [2]Way Back Home lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Vince Gilbert/Benefit Music/Vinny Mae Music

So – here’s what happened yesterday afternoon –

Our yard got fertilized today and the two little dogs like to eat fresh fertilizer (yuck!)
so I had to take them for a walk instead of just letting them out in the back yard before dinner.

While we were out there, I saw a small black dog. I’ve never seen him before. He was just sitting on the corner.
I figured I’d take my guys back home, just a few houses away, and go back to check him out.
As I was watching, someone pulled up in an SUV, got out and went over to the dog.
I assumed it was the dog’s owner, out looking for him.
No. It was another person like me, concerned about this dog just sitting there.

To keep it short, she brought the dog over to my house.
We called the number on his tag and got voice mail.
Since the other woman didn’t live in the neighborhood, I kept the dog.
BTW, he got along just fine with my three guys. We all watched a hockey game together.

Anyway, the owner returns the call. From Florida!

Turns out she was staying with a friend right down the street from us, and apparently the dog escaped somehow.
I went over to the house, found the hole the dog had dug to escape, and put a brick in it.
Still had no way to get the dog back in since there was a very high fence and it was locked.
Their own dog (the owner of the house) was still in the back yard.
If you’re a dog person and have ever had one get away from you, then you know how they felt.
They were very happy to have their little one find the way back home.

Since that time, my wife and I have rescued other dogs and reunited them with their people.
I’ve also learned some things from my own guys.  If you’re a dog person, or want to see what makes the human / dog relationship so special, you should check out the series “Learning from a dog“.

Then – last night – I was reading The Gospel According To Jesus: what is authentic faith, by John MacArthur.
That was research for a discussion of “works”. The difference between doing things to try to please God versus doing things after conversion because we have accepted Jesus as our “Lord and Master”. Huge difference.

The point here is that, according to MacArthur, we do things after accepting Jesus because we are accepting Him as our Lord and Master. Without getting into the details of what that means let me just say that I do not believe we can do anything on our own to earn salvation. If that were possible – Jesus died for nothing. For much more on this thought, please see Are we supposed to Believe God, Believe in God or Follow God?

So this begs the question: what are we supposed to do?
One thing we’re not told to do is convert people to Christianity – and then they’re done.

No – that’s just the beginning – as we see in Matthew 28:

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said,All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Note the words: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations And, after they’ve been baptized, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Oh – that’s work. Work for those we are reaching out to. But in the same light, it’s work for us as well.

<10.24.14 – Added note there’s a journey here – first a person has to want to be baptized (God’s work, not ours) – then they get baptized – then they start to walk on the way back home. It doesn’t happen all at once – and we don’t make it happen.>

Again – what are we supposed to do?
Let’s take a look at something Paul wrote. It’s interesting to note that it comes in a section the NIV titles “On Divisions in the Church”. It remains, to this day, as an issue that we have trouble with.

On Divisions in the Church

1Co 3:1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?

1Co 3:5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

1Co 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

1Co 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

1Co 3:18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

So, Paul talks about building and about God’s temple.
Note: God’s temple is us.
The building part? That’s work again.
So, what are we building for God – something that God wants us to do?

The maybe not so obvious answer, I believe, is that we’re supposed to build His temple.
Unlike the Old Testament, where the goal was to build and keep up a “real” stone building, our task is to build up the temple that Paul refers to. Us! And I don’t mean only ourselves! I mean everyone.
So at least part of our task is to build up God’s people.
Bring more people to Him.
Not just as converts to sit in church and be comfortable, but to become disciples and do things.
The things He asks us to do, including – but not limited to, building more disciples.

<10.24.14 – note again – remember the journey. The way back home is just that – the way – the journey – not everything all at once and we’re home!>

Which now brings me to the point of the song.

If we listen to it at face value –
it’s a very moving song.
Kids – taken from their parents –
Kids – unable to find their way back to safety –
Kids – with lots of questions that may not ever be answered –
Kids – with fear that may never be calmed –
Kids – feeling like they are doomed.

As for the dog story –
lots of us are on the lookout to rescue dogs that escaped –
or were abandoned.
Lots of us also take in those rescue dogs.

But – what about the kids?
They are an even more touching story.

We saw Jesus’ concern for children – in Matthew 18:5-6

Mt 18:5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

The picture at the top of this page is from the You Tube video. My original intent, months ago, was to write about this song from God’s point of view. And there it is in that picture. Think about it. We’re born here. But after we accept Jesus as our Lord and Master, we’re not really “of” here anymore.

Jn 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

Ro 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Is this part of our task becoming clearer? Check out this- from 1Jn 2:

Children of God

1Jn 2:28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

1Jn 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

1Jn 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

1Jn 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

1Jn 3:7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

So now we have –

A little girl was cryin’
For her mama and her daddy
She couldn’t understand why they were gone
She never knew the danger
Of talking to a stranger
Now the girl can’t find her way back home

A little boy went walkin’
Down to the corner market
To buy a loaf of bread and an ice cream cone
He never knew the danger
Of talkin’ to a stranger
Now the boy can’t find the way back home

1Jn 3:7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.

If we are truly children of God, should we not be helping other children of God, our “brothers and sisters” find their way back home?

And, let us not forget our own children!

Now – I’m asking you to listen to the song again.
Watch the video. But see it through God’s eyes.
Imagine Him, the Father, with His children, including you –
including your own children –
here on earth,
and He desperately wants all of His children to find their way back home.
But, He gave us free will.
He gave us the choice to return home.
Or not.

And while we’re at it, we’re also free to help our own children start to find their way back home as well.
Or not.

There are far too many people in this world that are helping God’s children get lost.

Too many kids are missin’ Is anybody listening?
Won’t you be the children’s eyes
They’re all alone
The hardest part’s not knowing
Where they are or where they’re going
Won’t you help the children find The way back home

God knows where His children are.
But those lost ones –
they don’t know where they are themselves.
And they don’t know where they’re going either.

God’s asking us to be the eyes of those lost children.
He’s asking us to help them find their way back home. To Him.
If you’re a Christian – you’ve found your way home.

Now it’s our turn. God has a task for us –
Won’t you help the children find
The way back home.

Conclusion – The Way Back Home

Now – watch the video again. When you start to cry,
don’t hold it back.
Let it out.
And while that’s happening,
let the Holy Spirit in.
Truly feel what God wants you to do.

When you ask Him –
He will tell you.

The faces on milk cartons
Thrown away and soon forgotten
What if one of those sweet kids
Was your very own

Tonight those kids are weeping
While yours are safely sleeping
Won’t you help the children find
The way back home

It doesn’t matter how young or how old the person is.
every one of us comes into this world, and gets lost.
Every one of us gets separated from God.
Somewhere inside each of us, there’s a desire to get back to Him.

Maybe that desire isn’t so obvious.
Maybe there’s not even the tiniest visible indication of desire.
But it’s there.

All it takes to get that desire going again is for one of us,
one of us who has been reunited with God,
to reach out to that person and try to help them.
And that does include our own children!

Maybe they’ll find their way back home to God.
Maybe they won’t.

But one thing is for sure –

if no one reaches out to any one of God’s children, that child will stay lost.

We should be so grateful that someone helped us to find that way home.

It seems like we should be more than willing to reach out and help others, just like those that helped us.

Won’t you help the children find
The way back home?

Footnotes

Footnotes
1The Way is what Jesus’ followers in the early church called their group.  Today, we call them Christians.
2Way Back Home lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Vince Gilbert/Benefit Music/Vinny Mae Music

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