After my trip to my hometown this past weekend, I will never think of the phrase, "Over the Hill", in the same way again. It will no longer be something to tease people with about getting older, rather it will be something to remind me about going home. Who would have ever thought a drive home could cause someone to think so much (much less, think theologically).
The drive from Jackson, MN (where I serve as a pastor) to Dawson, MN (where I grew up) is nothing too exciting. The land is flat with an occasional hill or two (including my favorite hill outside of Dawson — more on that later). There are a couple towns to break up the monotony of the 2 1/2 hour drive and even a lake to dress up the scenery. Other than that, The trip between Jackson and Dawson is nothing to put in a tourist magazine.
But there was something about the drive home on Friday that got me thinking. I hadn’t been home since Christmas and found myself really looking forward to getting home. My sister and brother-in-law along with my 2 1/2 year old niece were going to be there. I was going to see my two grandmas who live in the nursing home there. Along with these homecoming a cousin of mine who serves in the Air Force was returning home after being stationed in a former Soviet Union country (I can never remember the name). This was going to be a fun weekend.
The drive between Jackson and Marshall (the half way point) was nothing exciting. But once I left Marshall something changed. Now I was becoming anxious. I found myself looking more and more forward to getting home. I had to resist to urge to press my gas peddle closer to the floor in a effort to hasten my arrival. Each farm place and bend in the road become more and more familiar. Finally I arrived in Clarkfield and that meant the westerly turn that brings me closer to Dawson. Ten more miles then I wold be making the northerly turn to Dawson. The ten miles outside of Clarkfield were the longest ten miles of my life.
Then finally mile marker 8 arrived and I headed north. As I drove along (and I did increase my speed here) I recognized a familiar hill. It was the hill that I knew once I reached I could see Dawson. Sure enough, I crested the hill and there was Dawson. I was "over the hill". I was going home. My heart raced a little more and before I knew it I was walking into my parents home.
As I think about this experience I wonder if that is what it is like for someone who is approaching the end of their life. As they lay there in bed are they "cresting that hill" and seeing their final destination. Does their "heart race a little bit" as they perceive that they will be home shortly. I wonder. I have seen people completely at peace with dying and this has to be it.
I look forward to going home. I look forward to seeing my family. I look forward to that peace and comfort that only loved ones can provide. And if I feel this way about a boring 2 1/2 hour trip home then I can only imagine what my real homecoming will be. I look forward to "cresting that final hill" and seeing my Savior waiting for me. What a sight that will be. In the mean time, I continue my journey. God bless YOUR journey and happy homecoming to you.
P.S. If you would like to read more about homecomings read Anne Graham Lotz’s book, Heaven: My Father’s House