Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"I'm not home yet"

When I wrote about wasting one's life, I had a story in mind, but knew I had the details wrong. I finally got the details. After finding at least one version of the story on the web, but realizing I had been told a very different version, I sense it has to be an old preacher's chestnut. But I'll repeat it here anyway, even though I expect you should take it for its illustrative power rather than its historical credibility (of which I expect there is little).

Several years ago a veteran missionary was on her way home to the U.S., retiring after a life of service abroad. Aboard a ship bound for New York, she met an agnostic who said he thought it a waste to give one's life in missionary service. "Do you think anyone on this ship notices you because you 'gave your life' for your cause?" asked the man.

The missionary replied, "I'm not home yet."

The agnostic assumed the missionary was referring to a large crowd that would meet the ship, and he scoffed again when they disembarked and not a solitary person welcomed the old woman.

Once again, the old woman said, "I'm not home yet."

Now, let me note, when I first heard this story, the preacher who told it never mentioned this preliminary interchange. And the final scene was quite different from what I found on the internet.

On the internet I read,
She boarded a train destined for her small Midwestern hometown. Reaching her destination, she could no longer fight back the tears as the train pulled off and she stood alone on the railway platform. She had arrived at her hometown but no one was there to greet her. At this point God spoke to her and said, "You're still not home . . . yet."

In the version I heard, she arrives at her hometown and a crowd is waiting . . . except it is there not for her but for some other dignitary or famous artist. Despite the shock, she does not break down and cry. Instead, as she is greeted by a lone young man who was sent to pick her up, he comments on and apologizes for the contrasting lack of celebration in her behalf. And she, spiritual giant that she is, says, "Oh, don't you worry, honey! I'm not home yet!"

I think my point in posting this, if nothing else, is to remind and ask myself--and to ask you--when do you believe you're really "home"? When should you expect the reward for whatever self-sacrificing services you provide?

I say I believe there is more to life than what is here and now. Do I really believe it?
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