I have been kicked out of my house a few times in my life.
No, not like that.
In my late high school years, my parents hosted a small group for some of their friends at our house. Before the couples arrived, my sister and I needed to make ourselves scarce, disappearing to the library or our own small groups, etc. The same situation came up again recently, and I whisked away moments before the first guest arrived, headed for the bookstore. After three hours of running errands and making myself busy, I texted my parents to see if they had wrapped up. I didn't want to walk in on a serious moment and have everyone look at me uncomfortably, you know? The text simply read:
"Am I allowed to come home?"
I ended up sitting in my car in the driveway for fifteen minutes because cars I didn't recognize still sat outside my house, and like I said before, I didn't want to be a disturbance. My sister arrived shortly after me and assured me we could go in. "They always talk this late," she said.
I walked in and spoke with several of their friends I hadn't seen in while and proceeded to warm up some dinner as they slowly parted. As I ate my enchiladas, Dad came into the kitchen and looked me in the eye. "Did you text me?"
"Yeah," I said simply. "I just wanted to know if I could come home."
He pulled me into a hug, wrapping his arms around me. "You can always come home."
Five words. A plain phrase. A significant meaning.
Words spoken by a father who loves his daughter.
They meant it didn't matter if I interrupted. They meant I was never truly unwelcome. They meant as long as it was his house, I was always welcomed back.
I knew all along that because I lived there I could go in at any time, but having the words spoken by my father spoke to our relationship and painted a picture of how God sees us as His children. He always wants us to come home to Him.
It doesn't matter where we've been or how long we have been gone. God welcomes His children home because we belong to Him. He has chosen to share His house with us. Through the shedding of Christ's blood on the cross, we were given a key to God's house- an open invitation and a promise that we can always come inside.
And when we do make it home, the Father, much like the father in the story of the prodigal son, wraps his arms around us and welcomes us.
Maybe you've never found a place in God's home. Ask anyone who has and I assure you, they'd be happy to tell you how you can have your very own key.
Maybe you have previously found a place in God's home, but you went out to get some milk for the fam and got sidetracked on your way back from the store. Guess what! God hasn't changed the lock on the door. Your key still works, and He is waiting for you to come home. He wants you to come home. He has provided a way for you to come home.
As my father told me, so our Father tells us: "You can always come home."