It's an upbeat journey to make. The trip home—say, at Christmas or for summer vacation—includes old friends or family ready to hear the latest success stories and add to the applause. It's a time to bask in the warmth of belonging. Usually.

But there's also a downbeat kind of coming home. It happens after a failed marriage or failed career; after wrecking some special opportunity, perhaps damaging someone close in the process. That journey home can be a humiliating admission of defeat. It's the kind of coming home the prodigal son in Christ Jesus' well-known parable faced. It's the kind not a few of us have had to face somewhere along the way. It's the kind that presents us with a choice: We can sink in despair and self-pity. Or we can wrench a blessing from the experience, climbing to a solid platform from which to launch our life anew. That's always a possibility, no matter how total the failure. There are specific spiritual facts that make this so.

On the magnitude of Jesus' mission
December 13, 1982

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