Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Light in the Window

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20.

My friend was a hard driving, Christ loving doctor who was always there when God’s work was to be done. He was there at church; he was there at CMDA meetings, he was there in Bible study; he was there on our yearly mission to Nicaragua; he was even there in the doctor’s lounge, open with his faith. And then, his picture appeared in the newspaper, accused of Medicare fraud. I have no idea of the circumstances. He never quit practice for a jail term but he was also never the same with his visible faith. He still showed up for church, but that was about all. A couple of years after the newspaper thing, I invited him to join us again on our mission trip. He declined and said, “I’m not sure I’d be good at that anymore. The fire is gone”

In Charles Dickens’ classic, David Copperfield, Daniel Peggotty is an old seaman who took in his niece, Emily, as a small child when her parents died. He loved her as his own. On the eve of Emily’s wedding to an honorable young fisherman, she deserted her fiancĂ©, home, uncle and life for David Copperfield’s best friend. She ran off to a life of ruin that spiraled to the brink of personal destruction. When she came to her senses, she was unwilling to return home because of her shame. Soon after her desertion we see Uncle Peggotty with a staff and sack on his back, an old man, leaving his home to wander throughout Europe, seeking his lost daughter to bring her home. As he leaves, Mr. Peggotty tells his housekeeper to place a lamp in the window always burning, just in case Emily should wander by and realize that home was waiting for her.

As doctors we are hard working, goal-oriented achievers who often assume that we succeed based on our own merits. As such, when we fail, we may wander like Emily outside of God’s purpose for years, believing that we do not deserve to come back home. We don’t necessarily become bad people; we just lose our sense of purpose within God’s Kingdom.

While we wander, God, like Uncle Peggotty, is in relentless pursuit. Not only does He follow us and call out our name, He leaves a lamp in the window so that as we wander we may know that home is waiting for us. In fact, rather than Uncle Peggotty’s lamp, God’s beckoning light for His wandering children is more like the Trace Adkin’s song:

Every light in the house is on;
Backyard’s bright as the crack of dawn;
Front walk looks like runway lights,
It’s kinda’ like noon in the dead of night….just in case you ever do get tired of being gone.

Our failings may well change us, and may even change the mission God has planned for us; but we can be confidant that God wants us home. And even after our failings, God’s presence and God’s mission is grander than anything our wandering has to offer.

Dear Father,
When I wander, bring me home. Put me back to work with You.

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