Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Returning Home

One of the real paradoxes of our nomadic journey of ministry is the blessing of "home" as a moving target. Arkansas will always be home -- that's where my mom and dad, my sister and her family live. It is where I have spent 29 of my 36 years. It is where we spent our longest tenure of ministry -- seven years with the wonderful family of God that is the Village Church of Christ.

But home is also Hurricane, West Virginia. To this day, some of the dearest friends Mandy and I have live where we made our first home together. Home is also Lake City, Florida. And we still have fond memories of our short sojourn in Marble Falls, Texas.

Now, home is Fresno, California. It is at our home in Fresno where we forging eternal friendships as we witness the work of God in making an eternal difference in the lives of so many people.

I couldn't help but think of all this during the flight back to California on Sunday. I reflected on all our homes and our family, of our friends and all the great memories of fellowship shared in the past.

And that moment of nostalgia made me home-sick. Not for a home on this earth, but for an eternal home. Where there will be no more "goodbyes." Where there will be no more urgings to relocate. Where there will be an end to every ambition save the eternal praise of our Almighty God.


Being back home reminded me of so many things I miss -- and some things I don't -- about home in Arkansas.

For one thing, I absolutely do not miss chiggers. The Arkansas landscape is littered with those little boogers and the itchy sores on my ankles are proof.

What do I miss? I miss my parents. I miss my little sis. I miss my grandparents. I miss getting to play with my new niece and nephew. I miss getting to scour the Howard Mountain Hunting Lease with my dad as we did at daybreak on Saturday morning. I miss eating lunch at Pizza Inn with Myron Hall. I miss Clyde and Linda, Sam and Betty, Johnny and Sandy, Rob and Marla, Gary and Paula, John and Allessandra, Jeff and Michelle, and Hunter. I miss Shackburgers. I miss Friday night football at Jessieville High School. And I miss every friend who has impacted my life.

Truly, it was great to be home again.


And yet, those things I miss as I reminisce were yesterday.

Today is a new day and, like Paul, I am striving to "forget what is behind and strain toward what is before."

Today finds us in the midst of First Principles Day Camp at Woodward Park. Each year, I have conducted this day camp the week before the kids go to church camp (for us at Woodward Park, it is Yosemite Bible Camp in Oakhurst). So many kids make life-altering decisions at church camp and too many times, I have found those decisions are made without the depth of thought required for such a major commitment.

So, we are spending two hours each morning talking about sin and its consequences, the reality that Jesus is the Son of God, the necessity of faith and the evidence that supports faith in Jesus, the necessity of repentance, and baptism. It is my prayer that each of the 32 kids (grades 4-8) participating in our day camp this week will come to a fuller understanding of God's will for their salvation. Each evening, the kids have homework to do and discuss with their parents so that the parents are involved with their own children in the journey toward salvation.

Following lunch each day, Paul, our youth minister, has a fun activity for the kids. On Monday, they spent the afternoon at Boomers. Today they'll watch a movie on the big screen at church. Tomorrow, its off to Sierra Lanes for an afternoon of bowling.

But the fun is secondary to the spiritual feast from God's Word! Keep our day camp in your prayers, especially our campers as they consider the testimony of Scripture and its implications in their quest for..."home."