I saw one of those billboards the Marines put out for recruiting purposes. You know the ones that say "we don't take applications, just commitments." It reminded me of when my son left for the Marines. My wife cried quietly as he hugged her and said, "See you in three months, Mom."

Of course, he was thinking that all would be the same when he returned but we knew better. His experience will change him and our life without him will transform us into something a little different than what he left behind.

This departure made me realize that no matter how tightly you hold on, all that is precious to you will eventually leave. Whether it be your children, your health or dreams, everything will be gone one day. This would be a depressing comment on the vaporous nature of life if it weren't for the fact that we have been given one constant to hold on to…Jesus Christ. The Hebrew writer put it this way:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
- Hebrews 13:8

Paul's departure is a bittersweet experience. I'm proud to see him mature, sad that my little boy is gone. At the same time, however, I've become sensitive to the fact that the Jesus I praised when my son was born is the same Lord I now earnestly appeal to for his safe return. He has not changed, even if my situation has.

In the end, this event brings into sharper focus the One who has always been there through every change and loss in my life. My joy is that through Christ, all those I want to keep forever will be there to meet me when it will be my turn to leave home.

Discussion Questions

  1. What were some of the things your parents taught you that prepared you to leave home?
  2. What things do you miss most about the place and time you lived at "home"?
  3. Name the two most important features necessary to call a place home for you today.
  4. As a parent/son or daughter, what rules would you require to succeed in moving back (or receiving back) to your parents' home for a time?
  5. How has your faith impacted your home life?