On the surface that seems like a ridiculous thought. The song tells the story of a lover who left a relationship to pursue other passions, and now wonders what kind of a reaction would greet a return and an attempt at reconciliation. Would the abandoned party be just as eager to pick up the pieces of their lives and love, and look to build a future together again? Or would such an attempt be met with a cold shoulder, a cold heart and the news of a new life with someone else? Would the one who’s come back be met with an “I told you so” response?
Many people today are living the words of this song in their spiritual lives and their relationship with God. Having walked away from the love relationship with Him they once knew and enjoyed, they now feel a yearning in their spirits to go Home and rekindle that love. Perhaps, as so often happens, they didn’t realize the value of what they had until they left it behind. And now, having pursued the dreams that drew them away and finding only disillusionment and disappointment in those pursuits, they’re considering a return to the life and love of God they once knew.
But fear holds them back. They wonder what kind of reception awaits them, should they one day be brave enough to push open the church door and walk back in. How sad that they should even have cause to wonder. Yet churches are filled with imperfect people who sometimes respond with heads instead of hearts, and judgment instead of compassion. Too often we are guilty of reminding people of the warnings they were given instead of eagerly welcoming them back into the fold. We somehow make them feel they have to earn back the love they spurned by living up to certain behavioral expectations. And so they stay away for fear that they will never be restored back to full fellowship with the Father.
Yet nobody needs to wonder how God would reply in such a situation. He answered the question before we ever were in a position to ask it. In fact, the entire Bible is His written response to it. In line after line, verse after verse, and chapter after chapter, the Bible speaks of the love of God reaching out to those who have rejected it. It’s offered freely to all, with no strings attached, even though He knows full well that we will break His heart again and again with our selfishness and sinfulness. Our welcome home is promised in the pages of that precious Book.
The devil, however, does a good job of reminding us of all the bad things we’ve done, whispering into our listening ears that because of our “list”, we simply can’t go Home again. He tells us that God has surely filled His House, His church pews and the empty places of His heart with more faithful and devoted people than we can ever hope to be. And for some reason, we listen to and believe the lies he tells. Yet the only questions to come out of God’s loving response to us are likely to be, “Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) and maybe, “What took you so long?”
In any war of words with the enemy, God always has the last say. And in this case, when the battle’s won and you find yourself once again locked in the safety and warmth of His loving embrace, His words to you will be, “I told you so.”
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”
(Luke 1:20 NLT)