“Honey,” I said to my wife in that tone I get, “I want us to move to Fort Collins, Colo.”
“Is that a military base? Have you been recalled?”
“No,” I say with a comforting tone,” it’s a town in Colorado.
“And why would we move there?”
“Oh, several reasons,” I said.
“Name a few,” she demanded.
“I have family in Fort Collins.”
“Would that be the uncle your family doesn’t talk about?” she asked with a glare.
“No. They’re my family of readers. The Coloradoan in Fort Collins is one of the papers running my column.”
“Really? And will your ‘family’ house us while I beg for a teaching job using my California credential?”
Hmm. That could be a problem.
“Any other reasons?” she asked. I could tell this wasn’t going well.
“Uh, yes. Money magazine named it the top place to live in America this year.”
“I take it they have a new list every year?” she asked.
“So, are we going to move every year?”
I shook my head and wisely decided to stop talking.
We’ve been married 27 years. She recognizes my wanderlust because she knows my history. She knows I was a pastor’s son and later, a pastor myself, and then an Air Force officer. In all that history, I’ve never lived in a single house longer than four years. And now, as I finish my fifth year in my first post-military job, I’m feeling antsy.
My feeling reminds me of a famous Bible parable. Parables are little stories Jesus made up to illustrate a main point.
This parable tells about a son who wanted to leave his father’s farm so badly that he demanded his father give him his legal inheritance. He wanted to go anywhere but where he was, maybe even Fort Collins. (OK, Jesus didn’t say that part.)
The generous and loving father gave the son his rightful inheritance.
Yet with all that money, the son didn’t even make it as far as Fort Collins. He stopped in the first big town and blasted through his inheritance. He became poor so quickly he was forced to take a job feeding the pigs and wrestling them for a few bites of their husks.
Like all good stories, there came a turning point. Standing knee-high in a pig sty, the Bible says this Jewish boy “came to himself.” He realized even his father’s servants were living better than he. With that realization, the son went on the move again, this time to find his father and plead his forgiveness.
Now, here’s the cool part in the parable. Jesus says “while the son was still far off, the father found him.” It’s cool because the father wasn’t waiting on the front porch rehearsing his lecture like most of us fathers would be doing. Daddy was searching the highways and actively seeking a reunion with his son.
When he found him, the daddy threw a huge party with tri-tip and filet mignon, or something like that.
Anyway, like I said, parables have one point and here’s what I get out of this one as I think about my own wanderlust.
It’s easy to look for somewhere better to go. What’s hard is seeing the reality of what you have. And what’s harder than that is to make things work where you are. Still, what’s even harder is to go back and say you’ve realize that “here” is really where you’re supposed to be.
The good news is if you’re human, and like the prodigal you aren’t seeing how well you have it, God’s love will still pursue you wherever you go — even to Fort Collins.