Mike Cope's blog

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

You can't go home again. So many years ago when I read Thomas Wolfe's book I had no idea how true it is. Home changes. And you change. That hit me at the Tulsa workshop as I saw so many people from Neosho and from Searcy. I'm not really welcome at the church where I grew up. Of course, there is another church that was planted several years ago where my parents attend. We're welcomed there, and I enjoy speaking when we go home for holidays. And there are still other people at the other church that I care about and hear about. But it's strange to not be welcome in the church building that was build by my paternal grandfather (a carpenter). Same with Searcy. After attending Harding University (in Searcy and Memphis) for seven years and after preaching for the College Church for seven more years, I last spoke at Harding in 1991. Of course, there are still lots of friends there. And I have a great appreciation for the good things that are happening there (especially concerning mission teams, both international and domestic urban, that are being formed and sent out--really amazing stuff!). But it's still strange to have insiders tell me that they've been told I can't speak there. (I'm not alone. Two preacher buddies of mine recently complained to me that they've been told the same thing--that they can't speak there--even though the school recruits heavily at their large churches.) Part of me wants to scream: "That's not fair! That's the church I grew up in. I love the people there. That's the school I attended. I care deeply about the people there." But Wolfe was right (in one sense). You can't go home again. In some ways, this is a result of decisions I've made. Others probably believe some of the same things, but have chosen not to say them publicly. I didn't have to say those things. I didn't have to edit Wineskins with Rubel the last dozen years. And undoubtedly I've shown lack of wisdom and compassion at times. I'm growing . . . . (Part of maturing in Christ is learning to love and pray for the people who don't agree with you--from the "left" or the "right.") For this I AM thankful: that even though you can't exactly go home again, there is a part of home you can return to. There are all those loving people in Neosho and in Searcy. There are all those people in both places who molded my life, who blessed me (I blogged recently about some of them at Harding), who encouraged my life. There are all those wonderful things for the way of Christ that have been done and are still being done in both places. Life is partly about learning to love the homes you've left behind, learning to appreciate the home where you are, and longing for the home whose builder and maker is God.

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