29. Go Home

“The Bible does not say very much about homes;
 it says a great deal about the things that make them.
 It speaks about life and love and joy and peace and rest.
 If we get a house and put these things into it,
 We shall have secured a home.”
— John Henry Jowett


It was January 1996, and my nest was empty. Lisa was away at college in Arizona. And with the exception of a brief trip home for Christmas, Jonathan had been living in New York City for a little over three months. I was struggling to deal with the new realities in my life, including the continuous pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia syndrome.

Lisa loved the mild weather of Phoenix winters. But Jon had been dealt three rare blizzards in NYC following the Indian Summer that had welcomed us there in the fall. I kept watch on the weather channel and prayed for protection, wondering how he could possibly be surviving in the extreme cold and the abrupt change of culture that he’d been thrust into.

The phone rang. When I answered it, I heard a familiar voice say, “Mom … I think I need to come home.” Jon sounded frail and struggling to keep his voice steady. He explained that his roommate had been dealing drugs, and he admitted that he had tried a few. We talked about the ramifications of a decision to leave AMDA. He would have to begin work in the family business and agree to obey our house rules. Then he repeated: “I think I need to come home.”

I remembered the character that Jon had portrayed in “The Fantasticks” – how “real life” had treated him so unyieldingly. We would welcome home our weary traveler, and I looked forward to hearing all the stories he would have to tell.

But Jon didn’t talk much. He moved back into his bedroom, began work at the store and earned his driver’s license. Chuck helped him find a suitable car. He was eighteen and he had lived alone in one of the biggest cities in America. It made sense that Chuck and I should back off and let him make his own decisions … live his own life.

Then Chuck found drug paraphernalia under the driver’s seat of the Jeep that he drove daily, and we knew a conference was necessary. So the two of us faced off with Jon. Chuck revealed his evidence and I said, “Think about what could have happened if Dad had been pulled over for some reason and a cop had found those things in his car.”

Jon was calm and matter-of-fact. He explained that he thought there was nothing wrong with using drugs. And he intended to continue. He was smooth on the surface. But I saw in his eyes the same defiant spirit that had manifested during the disturbing conference with his high school teacher nine months earlier.

Chuck and I glanced at each other, and I said to our son, “Well, I guess that means you’ll need to find another place to live.”

Life went on and it eventually became apparent that nothing short of a miracle was going to rescue Jonathan from the pernicious lifestyle he had chosen. I prayed continually, asking the Spirit to do whatever was necessary to restore Jon’s love for the Lord. “But please,” I pleaded, “spare his life.”

Jon moved into an apartment on the beach with a couple of friends. They invited Chuck and I for a barbeque that they had prepared and cooked themselves. The meal was delicious, and we enjoyed the afternoon. Though we suspected that drugs were still in the mix, things seemed to be going better than we expected.

Time went by. I didn’t see our son much, but I knew that he was checking in daily with his dad at work, so I managed not to feel anxious about him. Lisa and Tim had become engaged, and she had moved back home while she was working and planning their December wedding. So on November 7, 1997, when I was awakened around 10:30 pm by a voice outside our bedroom door, my foggy brain told me that it must be Tim.

I recall saying, “What do you need, Tim?” And the voice answered, “It’s me … Jon.”

What followed, I can only describe as “of the Lord.” Jonathan was terribly shaken. He told me an astounding story of tainted drugs and fear and barely escaping death, of driving his car and passing a patrol vehicle and thinking, “This is it. I’m going to jail.” Then he heard the words, Go home. He thought he might be hallucinating, but the words kept repeating, Go home; go home.

Jon looked at me through repentant eyes and said, “God told me to go home.”

Our prodigal son had returned.

“This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased.”

  — The Lord God (Matthew 3:17)




Read Jesus’ parable of the lost son in Luke 15:11-32. Take note of how you should treat a family member who “comes to his (or her) senses”. … Just in case you ever find yourself in that position.