By Dr. Harold Sala
When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father….” Luke 15:17-18
“Leave today; leave tomorrow; just leave!” reads the advertising copy for a resort. Every person who reads that carefully crafted message probably thinks of something different. When you hear the invitation to “just leave” what comes to your mind? An unpleasant work situation? A home filled with arguments and harsh words? A marriage that has failed?
Leaving is appealing, but the glamour begins to fade when you face the next question. Where do I go? What’s my destination? Of course, heading for a resort for a holiday is romantic and enticing. After all, who doesn’t like to catch some sun with a bottle of Perrier at your elbow? But if leaving means walking out on your marriage, your family, or your work, the situation loses its romance very quickly.
Rather than walking away from home, leaving may mean going back home. Honestly, I never cease to have a measure of excitement when I’ve been away from home and I’m packing my bag to go home. The adrenaline still flows because home represents warmth, love, and security. It’s when home has lost its attraction that leaving seems more exciting than staying, working out problems, more exciting than facing the daily routine.
Your destination has everything to do with whether you are running away from duty and responsibility, taking the easy way out, or going God’s way.
Jesus told of a young man who heard the whisper “Leave today!” and he did just that. He asked for his inheritance and left home. He squandered the money on food, women, and entertainment, and that was when he hit the wall. Here’s how Jesus described it: “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father…’” (Luke 15:17-18). He left a bad situation and went home! When you have run from responsibility, leaving and going home, no matter how difficult it may be, is the right thing to do.
Thinking about how he would re-enter the world he had walked away from, he said, “I will say, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’” That’s when he got up and left for home.
Is your heart in tune with the cry of this young man, often called the Prodigal? “If I could only go home,” your heart cries out. Going home requires courage. Saying, “I was wrong; please forgive me,” may be the hardest thing you can ever do, but it pays great rewards because God is on your side when you do the right thing.
The message, “Leave today; leave tomorrow; just leave!” sounds appealing when you don’t want to face the routine, the grind, the hassle of keeping things together, but rarely is leaving the right way to handle things.
“But God can’t expect me to stay in a bad situation,” you say. You’re partly right. Bad situations can be changed by the grace of God by applying the biblical principles of communication, forgiveness and healing, but leaving or walking away from conflict doesn’t remove it; it only ignores it, and the flaws that produced the seeds of discontentment bloom again because you need to change, not simply change your mailing address.
One of the wonderful things about the grace of God and His touch on our lives is that He meets us where we are, bringing forgiveness, mercy, and help! Leaving always sounds romantic and exciting, but it’s not always the right thing, so when you get the urge to leave, better ask yourself, “Where do I go?” and “Is leaving running away from home or going back home?” That’s the difference.
Resource reading: Luke 15:11-32