“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. Luke 15:17-18
I love to travel around the world. Visiting new places helps me to appreciate the greatness of the God who created the world and sustains it with His powers. But as much as I like to travel, I do not like to stay away from my home for too long. And no matter how beautiful or enjoyable another location may be, I always look forward to coming home.
Home is where I can be myself fully. It offers comfort, security, peace, and a sense of belonging that I can rarely find anywhere else. When I am at home, I feel safe and secure. It’s my oasis in a world of conflict. Home is where I belong.
Throughout our Christian journey, we will be tempted to visit a lot of places—metaphorically speaking—because of our sinful nature. Yet, we should not allow ourselves to settle in those places. Like the prodigal child, we may go to foreign places to satisfy the lust of our hearts, but we should come back home to our Father in Heaven.
God wants us to remain in His secret place and abide under His shadow so we can remain safe and secure from the evil one. At times we may be tempted to visit the city called greed, but we should not stay there too long because it will lead to our destruction. When curiosity leads us to visit the city called lust and the town where people are addicted to pornography, illegal drug, and gambling, we should not stay there too long.
Let’s not forget the town called pride. Though we all visit it regularly, we should resist the temptation to stay longer than necessary before we start thinking we know better than God. The metropolis called jealousy offers many attractions that most people have visited. But believers should not get trapped within its walls. We should also avoid lingering in the city called gossip. That city can ruin our relationship with God and with others around us.
While non-believers may often get ensnared in those places, believers should stay away from them as much as possible because we are not of the world. We belong to the heavenly kingdom. Within the heavenly kingdom are such cities as holiness where we can live in total peace with self and with God. The city of brotherly and sisterly love is also in that kingdom. In addition, the city called joy is the main attraction of that kingdom.
Whenever I struggle with anxiety and feel the onset of depression, I remind myself that I can’t stay in those locations. When grief and heartaches overwhelm my soul, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me get back to the city of joy in the Lord, so I don’t walk in defeat. When hatred and bitterness hijack my heart because of the injustices in the world, I must come back to the place of forgiveness and tolerance so I can remain in a relationship of loving union with God.
As sojourners to heaven, we may make pitstops in ungodly places, but we should not stay in those places. We are to stay hidden with Christ in God. We are not condemned by God for visiting those ungodly places or even desiring to stay longer than necessary. The Lord has made provisions for us through Christ Jesus to return to His city of joy, peace, and love as quickly as possible. That is called restoration through repentance.
Questions for Personal Reflection
Which sinful metaphorical city or place are more tempted to visit or stay longer than necessary?
What do you do when you are compelled to remain in a sinful place or state of mind?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please give me the courage to resist the desire to linger in places or states of mind that lead to sin. May your Holy Spirit continue to order my steps so I can remain in your presence.