This year our family vacation is a true FAMILY vacation. EVERYONE is here! My ENTIRE family, all in one place. My parents, my siblings and their families, all of our children and even our soon to be grandbaby, snug in its mamma’s womb. EV-ER-Y-BODY is here!
Trust me when I say it is like troop movements to get this crew anywhere on time and in any presentable condition. When we do end up somewhere we completely take the space over (Yes, that is a party of 17!). It is raucous and LOUD; but mostly it is just wonderful to be together!
It is the waiting to all be together that is the most difficult when we begin a family vacation. There is a constant air of anxious anticipation as we wait for family members to arrive, and the clock is consulted continuously. Even if the majority of us are together already, it just does not feel complete until everyone has arrived and been accounted for.
For the last few summers we have vacationed at my parent’s house on the beach. My parents live in a gated community and it is a strictly enforced rule that when you arrive at the gate you MUST call and let mom know. The call from the gate triggers an immediate reaction something akin to a declaration of Defcon 1. Chants of “they are here” accompany a scurry to drop what you are doing and race for the parking area to welcome the new arrivals. “Put down that sandwich hon, they are here! They are here!” Frantic waving begins the minute that a car can be visualized on the road. Sometimes it ends up not even being the right car, but we are undaunted in our early and enthusiastic waving! To accompany the waving, we immediately begin to call out greetings. Never mind that the road weary travelers can’t even hear us as they aren’t within shouting distance yet AND their windows are rolled up; that is not the point! The waving and hurled greetings continue right up until the moment the car comes to a stop and we swarm the new arrivals with a frenzy of hugs and kisses mixed in with declarations of growth; “Well, look at this, when did you get taller than me?” and rapid fire questions and comments about the trip, “Looks like ya’ll made good time. How was the traffic?” The boisterous greetings continue as we strip the arriving car clean of passengers and luggage, and carry it all in to the house on a wave of laughter and hugging. This ritual is repeated with the same level of excitement and vigor until EVERY.LAST.ONE of us have arrived and we can officially feel like the family is together and complete! (It should be noted that this same raucous welcome can be extended to family arriving by air or train! We have caused many a person to stop and stare in the baggage claim area and the train station!)
Every year, no matter what, this is the way we greet each other upon arrival. It is as if all of the months that we have been apart build up and overflow in this exuberance of greetings and love.
If this is the way we greet our earthly family, what must it look like when a member of God’s family is welcomed home to heaven? It must be a GLORIOUS affair!
Can’t you just see it? Jesus pacing back and forth in anxious anticipation; excitement building at the idea that one of his children is almost home. Then the call from the gate with the news of an arrival, and the ecstatic cheer bursting from his heart, “They are here!” “They are here!” I believe that there is a race down the golden streets, with greetings being hurled into the air (who cares if the new arrivals are still too far down the road to hear them!) I believe that there is hugging and kissing and riotous rejoicing as the family gets one step closer to being complete. I believe that this happens EVERY.SINGLE.TIME that another one of God’s children makes it home.
I know that one day I will be welcomed home by my family that has gone before me and my Father who waits for me with great anticipation and open arms. Then I will get to be a part of the welcoming party for all of those that come behind. If I get there before you, I will watch for you. I will most likely ask my Father each day if you are coming soon. I will listen intently for the call from the gate and then wave at you like a crazy person, shouting greetings as you make your way into that heavenly city; laughing and rejoicing as you are wrapped in the arms of your Father. And unlike family vacation; no one will ever have to leave because we will all be HOME to stay.