Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord. (Hos. 3:5)

“GO AHEAD AND GO. We’ll miss you.” I spoke these words to my oldest child as he attempted to pack his bags and run away from home. At the age of twelve, he figured the world outside our care held more freedom and excitement for him. As he packed each item, his father told him to put it back. “That doesn’t really belong to you. I bought that.” The child ended up leaving the house with no more than a toothbrush. He returned several hours later and slipped into his chair at the dinner table. He never ran away again.

Sometimes as parents we have to let our children go their own way to learn a lesson. It’s a painful thing to watch your child heading into a bad situation. You want to reach out and pull that child back. Even children of God “run away from home.” But God always welcomes us back, and has been watching over us all the while, preparing for the day we would return.

He will not always shield us from the consequences of our folly while we are away. But He can turn our battle scars into badges of lessons learned if we come back under His authority and guidance. He always has our future in mind, even while we have gone astray.

Stop to give thanks for all the times God has welcomed you home.

Jan Cline is the author of three devotional books. She is a speaker and founder and director of a Christian writers’ conference in the Northwest.