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Window Watching
By Nancy Canwell

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I run away from where You are? If I go up to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in the place of the dead, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning or live in the farthest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me and Your right hand will hold me” (Psalm 139:7-10, NLT).

I was once a prodigal daughter—when I was five years old! Recently I asked Mom what caused me to announce that I was running away from home at such a young age.

“You didn’t like some of our rules,” she said. “And you didn’t like the way your older brother and sister were treating you that day. Your dad and I watched, amused, as you took out your little red suitcase and started packing your clothes. But when you walked to the door with your suitcase in one hand and stuffed dog in the other, we realized you were serious.”

I dramatically announced my exit, and started walking down the street. I didn't know it at the time, but my parents were watching out the window. Watching to make sure I didn’t go too far. Watching to make sure I stayed safe. Three times I stopped and looked back at our house. I didn’t really want to leave, and by the time I reached the end of our street, I was already homesick.

I quickly turned around and started running for home, my suitcase banging against my legs. Because Dad and Mom had been watching, they were already outside on the front lawn by the time I got there. The three of us hugged and cried. I never even thought of running away again. Who would want to leave that kind of love? Home was where I belonged.

Until recently, I didn’t realize how my simple story parallels those who “run away” from church. They run because they don’t like the “rules,” or because they don’t like the way a church family member is treating them. And yet many of them don’t really want to leave. They stop and look back, just like I did.

My parents are an example of what we members should do. When another member leaves, we need to keep watching out the window. Watching to make sure that they stay safe and don’t wander too far. Watching for the right time to approach them. But especially, watching so that when we see them coming home, we can run out to the front lawn to meet them.

God set the prefect example for us in the text above. He loves us so much that even if we try, we can never be out of His care. We can run, but we can’t hide. He is there.

What if our churches developed the same loving, watchful eye as God has? What if we knew where every missing member is? What if we knew why they left, if they were safe, or if they were on their way home?

If my parents had turned away and gone back to their busy lives after I ran away, there would have been no one to greet me—no one to welcome me home. We can only run out to welcome home missing members if we’ve been watching.

Prayer Focus: Pray that should a disconnected one return, we would welcome him or her home the way the father did the prodigal son: with unbelievable love, acceptance, forgiveness and celebration!

Recommended Resource: adventsource.org