In August 2007, Jeff and Mandy took
a week's vacation together. Jeff served as a church
pastor and they needed a break.
The week away rejuvenated their
spirits and replenished some of their energy. Already
married for over 20 years, they talked about the future
and made plans together.
the following week, Mandy dropped her bomb-shell. She
wanted a divorce. In fact, she and a client had
conducted an affair for months.
shattered. He needed to move out of the house
immediately but had nowhere to go.
Dazed and shell-shocked, he decided
to borrow a car and drive immediately to Idaho
where his aging parents lived. For 20 years he'd had minimal
contact with them. In his own words, he had hurt them
greatly. But what else could he do in this crisis? Where else
could he go to clarify his thinking and plan his next
The drive to the
old homestead overlooking the Idaho Valley took many hours.
The roads seemed irritatingly congested and road work
slowed the trip even more. It was late in the
evening - about 11pm - as Jeff approached
the family's 10-acre property that had birthed fond
memories for three generations.
He pulled over on the shoulder of
the road, afraid to face his mom and dad and overwhelmed
with his new pain and burden. He considered
heading to a local hotel for the night. Yes, that would
be best...then call them in the morning and drive out to
a voice within urged him, "Go on home." Reluctantly,
Jeff slipped the car back into "Drive" and eased back
onto the road for the final five miles of the journey.
he approached the family home he saw a strange glow. It
was mid-August and the night still had plenty of heat in
it. But at 11pm, what could produce this kind of glow.
Then he saw it.
His parents had hired someone
to put up all their Christmas lights. Lights bedecked the
house and the driveway. Decorations stood out on
the front lawn. And Jeff's parents - in their
80s - were sitting quietly on the front
porch where they had maintained a loving vigil for many
hours awaiting his arrival.
Their grace triumphed over his
The lights declared "Welcome home!"
As Jeff told me his story,
tears filled his eyes. In the midst of his
pain and confusion, his parents reflected Christ to him. Their home
became a sanctuary for him over the following six months
as he processed his brokenness. That godly, older couple
facilitated grace and healing for Jeff's woundedness.
appropriate that they should put out the Christmas
lights! Those lights, reserved for Advent each year,
signaled not just the coming of the Son of God that
August but the coming of their own son.
I wonder.... This year as you see
lights strung around
homes and front yards, perhaps they'll be more than just
pretty decorations. May they serve as symbols of grace
and healing for you and others, and a reminder
that God has said, "Welcome home!" And look for the Father
on the front porch. He's still watching for your coming - the
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