For Michael it was an inexpressible joy to return home. He told Carissa as soon as they landed at an intermediate stop on the east coast he could feel the delight of seeing and even smelling America. It just got better from there. He is with his beloved bride and he is home where it is safe and beautiful. He has a whole new appreciation for the wonders of the place he lives. Of course for all who love him it has been an equal joy. We have had to restrain ourselves to keep from overwhelming Michael and Carissa. We are so happy to have him back home. No more concerns when we read of another battle or terrorist attack in Afghanistan. Michael is no longer in danger of being a victim. And he no longer has to suffer through long, lonely, empty days. We get to see him, to be with him and enjoy him. Wow this is a great week.
Yes, at some point all of us who love Jesus are going to go home. It was a big comfort to me to realize that day will be even better than Michael’s homecoming. We will be leaving a dangerous, violent, broken and often ugly world to go to a place whose beauty is unimaginable and overwhelming. We will experience peace and security such as we have never known. We will be reunited with people we love who will be joyfully celebrating our arrival, including Jesus Himself. As soon as we see the sights and smell the smells of heaven we will rejoice and think, “Yes! This is where I belong. It is where I have always belonged. I am home at last.”
In addition to just being a ridiculously happy occasion, Michael’s return has served as a little picture for me of the truth that Paul stated in Philippians 1:21 when he said that for him to die is gain. He went on in verse 23 to say that to depart and be with Christ is “better by far.” I just got a glimpse of what he means. Welcome home, Michael.