Come Home Julie Cole July 20, 2017 Archive, Breaking 156 Font Size » Large | SmallBy Julie Cole Julie and her new grandson, Chip.Everybody’s healing journey is a bit different. Some people need help overcoming cracks in their faith while others are stuck with gaping holes of pain they’ve suffered in their past. Some people seem to make great strides of progress, while others inch forward one step at a time. Still others may suffer setbacks and need to travel back over ground that was lost. As different as these journeys may be, I’ve noticed two common denominators among people who ultimately find God’s healing in their lives. These important elements are relationship with God and authentic connection in a group where God’s truth and unconditional love are shared. This kind of connection can be seen in Marilee Stephens’ story when Pastor Gary Hebden invited her to come back to church by saying, “God wants you to come home.” This is a powerful invitation. For some, the words “come home” may elicit fear or anger because of hurt experienced from family members. But at its core, the invitation to come home touches on a deep longing every person has to be truly known and loved. This kind of connection can happen in various ways. It may be through a small group at church, a circle of friends, or family. Following are some elements of “coming home”: Coming home means you are not alone. There is a place you belong. God has designed us to need each other. The enemy tries to pick us off in our isolation and loneliness by convincing us of his lies, like “no one really cares,” or “if anyone knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me,” or “I have nothing to offer.” Home is a place where people remind us of God’s truth in our situation. It provides us with a vital reality check. Coming home can require repentance and humility. We may have done things of which we feel ashamed. While it can be tempting to try to sweep these things under the rug and pretend they never happened, true connection isn’t possible when we live in denial or hiding. Being vulnerable about our sin and failure within a supportive small group allows God’s love to shatter the shame that has blocked healing and kept honest relationship at arm’s length. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Coming home returns you to the Father’s embrace. We can convince ourselves that God doesn’t want anything to do with us because of our failures. When the Prodigal Son decided to return home after squandering his inheritance, he was sure he would be received only as a servant. Instead when he was still a long way off, his father ran to him and embraced him (Luke 15:20). Similarly, when we are honest about our situation and take the first step toward God, we are on the path of colliding with His incredibly huge love. Coming home affirms your true identity. A key area in which the enemy tries to attack us is identity. Connection to a group of people who affirm who God says we are brings healing to our very person. Honest relationship with other Christians has the power to challenge poor self-esteem and to correct areas of pride. When we know who we are in Christ, we are able to rise to the fullness of the authority and calling God has for us. Coming home connects us to the bigger picture. None of us has all of God’s truth by ourselves. God gives each of us a piece of the puzzle. As we connect with one another, we get a bigger glimpse of God. We not only understand our own gifts better, but we can also appreciate and be strengthened by others’ gifts. We become a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are The Body, The Church, The Bride. There is power in the corporate gathering of believers. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20, NKJV). We are more whole when we connect with other believers. The invitation to come home never ends. No matter how mature we are in our spiritual walk, God is always calling us closer to Himself, and He often does some of His deepest work in us through others. Recently in a small group of which I’m a part, the conversation “got real” about places where we felt God had failed us. As I shared my experience, the listening and support of other members touched a deep wound I’d forgotten I had. Later that week as I sat in a moment of silence, I could sense God inviting me to walk through that place with Him again. He wanted to hear the story from my point of view. As I shared that with Him, I could feel the grip of the hurt being released inside me. Somehow in glazing over this hurt in the past, I had convinced myself at some level that God just didn’t care. When I took a risk and shared this pain with others, it opened me up to God’s healing invitation to come near and talk with Him. Julie Cole is a licensed marriage and family therapist and Open Bible minister serving as an adjunct counseling professor at The King’s University in Southlake, Texas.