As a young mother with three small sons I was trying to explain to them one day the concept of death. My mother-in-law, their grandmother, that they loved and spent a lot of time with had passed away from cancer and they all had questions regarding where she was and was she coming back.
I told them a story, that they now as young men, tell me stuck with them throughout their childhood and now into adulthood. The story is as follows:
When I a young girl I had an Aunt that I loved to go and visit. I would go to her house every summer. She lavished me with gifts and made me feel very welcomed and at home. I looked forward to going there every summer and it became my “second home.” Every summer it was my plan to stay all summer long. But that never happened.
In variably about two or three weeks into the summer my mother would call and she would begin to tell me how she missed me, and how much she couldn’t wait for me to come home. I would tell her how much I loved her and then hang up. Over the next few days, I would constantly think about my mom and how lonely she must be without me and by the end of the week I would go to my Aunt and tell her that I needed to go home.
My Aunt would tell me of all the wonderful plans she had for us for the summer, things we would do and places we would go. I very much wanted to do all those things, but the tug at my heart for my mom and my love for her and my desire to please her was greater than all the wonderful plans my aunt had for me.
My Aunt though saddened at a visit cut short would take me to the bus station and send me back home. I would turn and watch her as she would wave till I was out of sight. I would miss her, but the minute that bus would pull into the bus station and I would see my mother’s smiling face the thought of leaving my aunt was gone. I would jump off that bus and run grabbing ahold of her and she would laugh and say “Welcome home daughter!”
I told my sons, that’s the way it is with God. He loves us so much. He misses us and wants to be with us. This world with all it has to offer is not our home. As much as I liked being at my aunts, it was not my home. I loved my aunt deeply, but she was not my mom. The pull to be with my mom and home was far greater than anything that my aunt could offer. And as much as I knew my Aunt loved me. That love could not match my mothers’ love.
God allows us to visit here on this earth, but it is only temporary. And though we often tie our emotions and desires to the things of this world, we should never get too attached. Because at any moment God can call and say “I miss you... it is times for you to come home.”
I told my sons how very much God loved their grandma. And that though He would have liked to have called her to come home much sooner. He didn’t because He loved them so much that He wanted them to be able to get to know her and get to experience how much she loved them. But He just got to missing her too much, and as much as we loved her, He loved her more, so much more that He just couldn’t spend another minute without her, so He said “Betty, your Daddy has missed his daughter long enough...come home! So she left us here and went to her home there.
I explained that this was only their temporary home as well, and that there is a home there by her, in our father’s kingdom, where she’s waiting for us, and that someday, Daddy will get to missing us so much that He will tell us to come home too, and when we get there, Grandma will be there waiting with warm chocolate chip cookies.
It was a simple story, but one they understood. Do you?
-Dr. Rita Sanders-