About 12:30 this morning we returned from a two-week vacation. We had left Florida on Sunday morning hoping to make it back in three days. Sunday was a good travel day but on Monday morning we got caught in an ice storm in east Texas and decided the safest thing to do was to get a motel room and hope the roads would be safe on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday morning we got on the road again. I had a goal in mind, thinking that it we got to a certain place then we could certainly be home by Wednesday, as we had originally planned when the vacation started.
Tuesday's travel began a bit slow but safe. When we stopped for lunch our goal of Amarillo was easily in reach, so we started thinking about how much farther to go. The weather was holding, the roads were in great shape, and more snow was in the forecast for Wednesday. We really wanted to get home. So we kept going.
We stopped for supper and then got on the road again. Kat quickly fell asleep and we continued on. Over the last 100 miles there was fog, intermittent snow and a few deer and elk. At 12:30, with a bit more than 900 miles for the day's travel, we arrived home.
It was good to be home. Our cats were delighted to have us back and we looked forward to sleeping in our own beds, followed by a day of catching up with all the things that come with being gone for two weeks. Robin helped Kat get ready for bed while I unloaded the car. Kat went to bed, with her cat quickly laying on her pillow, and a bit after 1 AM Robin and I got ready for bed.
Our usual practice at home is to read the Bible and pray together at bedtime. Our routine changes a bit when we are gone but we didn’t let the lateness of the evening change things last night. We didn’t even think about it. We just sat down, picked up the Bible on the bedside table, opened to where we left off two weeks ago, read a passage and then prayed.
And that was when our homecoming became bittersweet.
It was the first time that we sat to pray for our grandchildren by name since last week's accident. We routinely pray for them while we are home but find that when we are away from home the ways in which we pray together change. Last night we returned to our usual pattern, but the pattern had changed.
We reached the place where we prayed for Raelyn's older brother and then stopped where we would have prayed for Raelyn. After a few quiet moments we prayed for the people who benefitted from receiving the organs she donated for transplant. People we learned were on death's doorstep themselves but for the ability of her parents to think of others while in the midst of their own grief. And then we moved on to pray for Raelyn's younger brother and our other grandchildren.
During conversation at our supper stop Kat said this: "Raelyn has everything she needs now." Kat has shed many tears over the past week. Being adopted, Kat is not only our daughter but also Raelyn's step-sister, as they have the same father. But in those few words Kat spoke profound truth.
We have no doubts that Raelyn is in the hands of her Savior and Lord, Jesus. And while we who loved her miss her and grieve her sudden passing from our lives, we do so knowing that at this moment she is experiencing joy that is complete in every way.
We had a longing to get back home on Tuesday and found in that return a reminder that home had changed. But this isn't really home. Our true home is somewhere else. This is where we live, where we love, where we serve, until that day our Savior calls us to be home with him.
This is a good place and we love it dearly, but it is only a way station on a journey to a place that is perfect in every way. We can’t know why Raelyn was called home at so young of an age, but we take comfort in knowing that she is with her Savior and in the presence of joy and glory that never fade.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.