I typed the destination into my GPS. I was headed to a retreat for a group of women who had been in a Bible Study together for 40 years. I felt honored to be asked to lead them.
The first half of the trip took me on very familiar roads. It was the same route that I had routinely and repetitively taken to my childhood home. The same place my parents had lived their entire life. This journey has become rare now since the death of my parents. For a while I drove up to visit some special friends, but there are fewer of them as aging brings with it the gradual diminishing of childhood relationships.
The impact of memory surprised me as I drove by familiar landmarks. I found myself picturing my Mom and Dad eagerly waiting for me to arrive. They were both intensely interested in anything I had to say and everything I was doing. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say they have been crazy about me since I was a baby and that extravagant affection never faded.
As I drove I became overwhelmed by grief. I was so wanting to drive all the way to my childhood home and have my Mom and Dad waiting for me. I remembered that I never had to call ahead or even give warning that I was bringing friends with me. But, my assigned route today had me turn off this familiar path at the halfway mark. I knew if I had continued on there would be no one waiting. Somehow this did not make the new road easier. It did, however, give me an introduction for the retreat.
I was able to let those in attendance borrow my experience of being loved by my dad. I reminded them that God was excited that they had come. That He was eager to talk to each of them personally, listen to them, and was deeply interested in what they had to say.
I am thankful that I had parents who make it easy for me to embrace the welcoming arms of Our Heavenly Father. I am glad that the hope of the gospel means I will never be orphaned. Whenever I turn my heart toward home I find my Father running toward me.