Finding Our Way Home
Isaiah 51:11 So the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
The prophet is speaking words to a people who are anticipating a return from exile. The people of God will be ransomed, a payment made by the capture of two other nations. When that happens the exiles will return home, singing and rejoicing. Jerusalem is their home and finally they will be able to climb the hill again to Zion and their joy will sustain them to the end of their lives. All the years of sorrow and sadness which they have experienced in exile will disappear.
Not only is the prophet speaking to those who were suffering in physical exile, but to those who struggle in a spiritual exile. Jesus, the Messiah would come, and he would pay the ransom to set God’s people free. Those who are ransomed will then return home — to their spiritual Zion. They will be invited to into kingdom living and in this place there will be great joy and singing in praise and honor of God. Ultimately there will be a new Jerusalem in which there will be eternal joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing will be disappear.
The promise was for those then who awaited their return home, and for God’s children for all of eternity, who are promised a pathway home to Zion.
When I was a little girl growing up in Europe we would travel a great deal. It was easy to visit numerous countries because they were so close together and so my parents would squeeze all six of us into the car and off we would go. I never worried about finding our way home, as long as Dad was with us. My dad was tall and so I would simply look up and glance over the crowd to make sure that I knew where he was. It was not uncommon when I was small that I would grab onto my dad’s leg, holding on for dear life, to make sure that I was going to stay close to him. I do recall one time visiting a church and thinking that I had found my father’s leg, only to look up and discover that I was clinging tightly to a stranger, and that left me a bit traumatized.
Once I was asked to participate in a wedding when I was just a little girl. Dressing up as the flower girl was fun but when it came time to walk down the aisle, I was terrified. Instead of doing my job properly, I attached myself to the ministers leg and he and I walked down the aisle together. Somehow I needed to have my fears calmed by the presence of my father. He was the one who would always get me back home without a problem!
Getting home was always something that we kids looked forward to. As much as we enjoyed our journeys with our parents, there was nothing better than finally seeing the homestretch. When I was seven years of age we visited the United States for several months so my parents could speak at a number of churches. At first it was fun, but finally it got long and a bit tiring. We simply wanted to get home. Instead of flying home, my parents booked us passage on a Steamship, the SS United States. We got on the ship in New York and steamed all the way to France. When we arrived Dad picked up a rental car and suggested that we visit Paris before driving the rest of the way home. Reluctantly we agreed that he could take us to Paris where he wanted to show us the Eiffel Tower. We drove around the block, looked out the window and pronounced to Dad that it was nice, but could we now go home! We pulled out of Paris without even leaving the car and drove home to Frankfurt, Germany. With great joy and gladness we finally saw our home after months of being on the road. There is was nothing better.
I wanted to be home.
I needed my dad to take me there.
I had to trust my father.
Spiritually we are drawn toward home, and that is not here on this earth. As followers of Jesus Christ we are living in a foreign world, citizens of the heavenly kingdom. We already live in the kingdom, and yet we are not quite there. It’s an odd space where the more that we know the Lord, the more we are drawn toward Zion. But we need our heavenly Father to lead us to that place. We are spiritual children who do not know the way to go on our own. If we try, we just may end up lost. Making sure that we stay close to our heavenly Father ensures finding our way home, but we must believe and trust our Father. When we live in this way then we can enjoy the journey. There will be struggles and difficulties in life but ultimately sorrow and sighing will flee away as we put our trust in the Lord. This is what happens when we find our way home.
Lord, thank you for loving me as a Father, and for your presence which leads home. Amen.