I must say that after seeing all the news stories about crowded airports and jam-packed freeways, I am thankful that all my immediate family members live within five miles of our home.
To get an idea of just how busy the roads and the skies will be, the TIME magazine website offers these nerve-wracking stats:
Nearly 51 million people will travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend — the highest travel volume since 2005, and a 3.3% increase from last year, according to data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) and INRIX, a global transportation analytics firm. Those traveling this year represent 15% of the country’s population. Eighty-nine percent of travelers will journey by car.
That’s a lot of human movement! And the goal for each is individual is clear: make it home for the holiday.
Of course, not all travel goes smoothly. Some people will be hindered by weather, others held back by mechanical issues.
When these obstacles arise, the creativity of the human brain kicks into overdrive. Flights get rescheduled. Alternate means of travel are explored.
Essentially, the mental mantra of Thanksgiving travel seems to be something like this: “Giving up is not an option!”
Simply put, the strong desire to get home causes people to overcome a host of challenges.
This yearly pilgrimage to be with friends and family got me thinking about home-going on a greater, grander scale.
As the Bible tells it, humankind was created for eternal fellowship with God.
But because sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam, humanity suffers separation from our intended home in heaven.
And unlike holiday travelers trying to set up a different flight or figure a way around a highway detour, the Bible tells us that our sin is too much of a barrier to overcome.
Last January my family scheduled a trip to visit family in Southern California. We drove through the snow to get to the airport (which felt like a victory in itself) only to hear from the airline agent that all flights had been cancelled.
We had to absorb the reality that on that day we would not be able to reach our destination.
That’s the bitter truth about the burdensome debt of sin. It can’t be paid by human effort.
Romans 3:23 puts it like this:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Thankfully, God Himself has removed the barrier of sin so that human beings can once again come home and experience relationship with God.
This was accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who paid for our sins through His death, and proved He had the power to conquer death (sin’s ultimate penalty) by rising from the dead.
As Romans 6:23 declares,
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That’s good news! Because of God’s grace, wisdom and power, the obstacle of sin has been removed so we can reconnect with God and experience his blessings.
Yet, here’s something sadly interesting. Unlike the clamoring multitudes who annually race home for the holidays, the number of people seeking to get back to God appear to be much more minimal.
Jesus, in his well-known Sermon on the Mount said this:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)
When it comes to Thanksgiving travel, people will take great pains to figure out how to get home, even in the midst of discouraging impediments. People will spend staggering amounts of money and energy to accomplish the goal of getting home.
But on the spiritual front, it’s seems the presence of hindrances can become a roadblock to finding home. Rather than fight through, people give up, looking for other means to satisfy their craving for home.
What’s amazing is that God’s offer of coming home is free. We don’t have to strive or labor. A restored relationship with our creator is based upon two things: believing and receiving. Here’s who two scriptures that make this point:
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13 ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17 ESV)
But although God’s gift of life in Jesus is free, it will demand we clear out anything that will keep us from it.
We may have to push away pride.
We may have to adjust our human relationships.
We may have to alter some of our activities.
When it comes to finding the way home during the holidays, people can become downright obsessive. My prayer is that when it comes to our ultimate home-going and our eternal destiny, we will give it at least the same amount of thought and energy.