(for a follow-up to the evening. There was much spiritual warfare throughout the night. There was one time in the evening, after the play, that there were three groups ministering in prayer to different individuals. I had an opportunity to talk with each of these young people. One of the girls was trembling with inward pain. She would groan repeatedly, "I hurt so bad." She has secrets that she told me would keep me from loving her, even if I was a christian. I was firm, "I love you--we love you here. We will protect you." We cannot make such promises because we are strong, but because One who is strong dwells within. The night ended for me at 1 o'clock. The next day (the day that in which I am now writing) I went on a hike up to a favorite lookout in the area. On a clear blue day, the kind you wish for when taking a picnic, you can see all the way to Seattle. But Seattle is only a toy city in this view. Immediately in front is a valley down the edge of the cliff you are standing on that rises again onto a mirror mountain. It was a needed time to sit and pray. It is so good to "cast our cares" on the Father. Join me with whatever you have.)
Title: Come Home, Hillbilly Boy!
The beauty of the farm -
Most stories begin “once upon a time,” but this could truly happen anytime. Did it happen at one time? Sure it did, and I will tell you that story. But what makes it a good story—like every good story—is that it could happen to me or you just the same.
I don’t know if your familiar with the area. This is the Appalachian Mountains, which stretch from the Great Smokey Mountains of South Carolina through the Catskill Mountains of New York and on North. The Appalachians are rugged and beautiful. It is not only the endless landscape of tree steepled mountains and loosed beasts that make these mountains rugged. The people do their own part to add to the unwelcoming legend that has grown here. If you got on your fastest horse and traveled due East from New York City you would eventually ride right up the mountains. Then once you start heading right on down the other side you would be sure to hit the Father’s farm. Of course it goes by a different name, but to separate it from all others farms we will give it that simple title. Set in a lush valley between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean—which if you paddled a boat across would set you down upon the desert sands of Africa—the Father’s farm was all that one might consider perfect as far as farming goes. I have been told you can hear whispers of His wheat harvest on the steamships that travel up and down the Mississippi and tales of the wild mustangs that are tamed there as far west as the gold rush towns of southern California. I would tell you more, but there is not enough time.
The characters -
The Father who lived on the farm had two boys. One Old and one Young—and for the sake of time that will also be their names. Old had graduated college by the time that the Young was graduating high school, and was planning on returning to the farm to continue the family legacy. There was opportunity for both of them there for the ranch, as we have mentioned before, cannot be measured by the eye for it spans over hills and across rivers; however, the younger son was not like the older. He didn’t want to go to college, work on the farm, and if we are going to be honest—like all true stories should be—he was not always excited to live in the same house with his family.
The discontent of the farm -
You might not find this difficulty unusual, but it must remembered that in farming and families it is sometimes hard to tell which one has been around longer—the bloodline or the dirt. The Father’s farm had been around for a long time. Some say, since even before the world began. So it was a big deal the Younger wanted to leave. He felt limited by the boundaries of the farm. The world was big and that meant that there must be something better out there. Poor reasoning, but mixed with earnest desire even the poorest reasoning affects the mind like a tonic.
Leaving home -
So one day, not long after the return of the Older from college, the Younger gathered the courage to approach the Father. Even this act might seem surprisingly undefiant, but above all the younger could not doubt that his Father was a loving man. He told the Father his desire to live in the world. “Over those mountains are places where building rise higher than trees and people ride machines like horse drawn carts,” the younger explained. The Father was not naïve to any of this. You see, the Father’s farm was a thriving place. Not only was there premium beef served in skyscraping restaurants from New York to New Delhi, but their crops supplied markets around the world with a rare quality of fruit. Knowing this the Father did not smile. He only replied, “Son I love you. I will not force you to remain. From what I have you may take. Only take what I have knowing that I love you.”
The early beauty of the road -
The road seemed fresh to the younger son. New things usually do. In no time at all he saw new birds and trees that he had not seen on his side of the mountain. And for a while things seemed to blossom before him. The sun shone seemed to follow him over the mountain top. The road went on for quite some time and the younger grew tired. Being tired enough to sleep he dropped down beside a crossed street sign.
The meeting of a jovial friend -
What felt like only moments later he awoke to the bright whistle of another person coming down the road. The younger was what one would rightly call innocent. Never being outside the Father’s farm he thought of everyone as being connected by mutual kindness and respect. So he happily grabbed the oncoming fellow and gave him a hearty greeting. Without waiting for a response he told the other young man his whole history and his plans to see the world and of the ability he had to do just that, revealing all the wealth that was given to him by the Father. To this the new fellow then replied, “Ha! Well my friend you have met the right person. I am a sailor. I have seen the world (giving the Younger a slight wink and nudge with these words) and will be your guide. With what you have and what I know we will rule New York.” The Younger knew neither what the wink or nudge meant, but thought him very friendly so responded, “I don’t know New York, but I am done with the old, so let’s go my friend.”
The city -
The Younger had not completely picture New York wrongly. It was all he imagined, yet more. The light were brighter, building taller, and cars faster than he had described to all those back at the farm. Being sure of the rightness of his decision he settled down at once. Since he had always been taken care of before one of his concerns was managing his money. To his delight his new friend offered to help him with that and so he entrust all his inheritance to the capable hands of his first friend. The first of many I should say. In no time at all the Younger was a popular name in upscale New York. He learned that a “party” meant more than a barn and a fiddle. Here party meant people—lots of people—and twenty flavors of booze. At first it made him uncomfortable, especially the other things that came with this loud and fast environment. He had never kissed a girl before. Once he had winked at a girl the pretty redhead in the country church before, but it was nothing like this. As we said before, it was not comfortable at first, but with a little encouraging from his friend, “come on man, I thought you wanted to see the world. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge),” he finally slept with a girl who seemed to like him enough. She was really pretty and it was nice to get attention from her.
When our means end -
This went on for a quite a long time. The Father had given him a lot. Then one day the house was quiet. It was nice to finally have a quiet day so he thought nothing of it until the evening. By the evening the quiet was almost unbearable. It is hard to be alone when you have carried on for so long. He went out alone for the first time since he had entered the city (you know someone is familiar with a place when they just call it “the city”). The buildings did not seem tall anymore and the street lights seemed dull compared to the rays of sunlight that spanned across the silver lake back home. Home! It was so distant now, even hard to imagine. “Oh well,” He thought, “I would not be welcomed back anymore. Imagine telling Father what I have done. And Older brother always thought that he was better than me. Just think what he would say.” It was completely dark when he returned to the apartment without a yard that he now called home. His key didn’t work in the door, so he tried another. This evening does not allow for a complete retelling of the following events that would leave the Younger even more alone than before. You see, his friend (though it would be a disgrace to continue using that word for such a person) had indeed taken care of his money. He had paid the rent for exactly two months, with the rest he made the connections that he himself wanted and boarded a one way flight to Mexico.
To tell the truth the Younger looked quite silly sitting on the curb in his pajamas. He had not thought of changing when he went out for his evening walk and now that was all he had in the world. Being as resourceful as he could he rode the bus to the end of the free zone and then made it to the edge of town by hiding under the seats and then running off the bus. Despite his distance from innocence he still felt bad for doing such things. If you have ever walked further than from the bedroom to the kitchen in slippers you might find a little sympathy in your heart for our lonely boy. Dirt roads were made for pick-up trucks and boots, not the thin clothing and cloth shoes that this young man wore.
A cruel master -
By watching the boy walk you might have thought all he had known was hardships. If his shoulders were not attached to his neck you would think they would have fallen to the ankles.
His hands remembered the work that he once knew so well so he headed back into farm country. Still on the waterless side of the mountains he found a pig farm and applied for a job. The master of the farm spoke in grunts and points. It is all you can expect from a man who lives alone with pigs.
Pigs of despondency and a hope beyond -
The man was not used to society or companionship—he too had been hurt by the world— so he made the boy sleep with the pigs and treated him little better than the animals that he fed. It might surprise you what the depressed heart can put up with. But there was something too familiar about the dirt to make him forget a memory that now seemed to be almost too distant to hold. It was a small thought, but a thought nonetheless. It was a moving picture of a loving man who owned a mansion. All his servants lived in the mansion with him and his table was never without food. One day it came to the young boy in a flurry of wonderful thoughts, that that man was his Father! His own father! “I know what I will do,” the boy spoke to himself, “I know that I am not worthy to be a son, because I did not listen to the loving words of my Father, but knowing his love I will ask for forgiveness and beg to be his servant. Oh how wonderfully he treats even his servants.” Fearing the wrath of the cruel master he currently worked for the Younger escaped in the middle of the night and upon finding the first road he headed due East back over the mountains.
A Father’s run -
Soon enough the boy began to see familiar things. The refreshed mind is an amazing thing. As he walked he remembered the names of trees and the songs of familiar birds. He rejoiced to be in this strange country that seemed so wrapped in love. How had he not understood this before? How could he think there was a better place in the whole universe? The place was so familiar now that he knew he was within shouting distance from the house. Then as if some unseen hand had grabbed the collar of his raggedy shirt he came to an abrupt stop. Could he really do this? Had he not taken advantage of the Father? He was not worthy and he knew that well. It seemed to be the greatest truth in the universe at that moment. He was not worthy to be loved. A terror filled his heart. Not a terror of the Father or this beautiful place, but a terror of all that he had done and become. He was not worthy and that was it. Numb and emotionless his body turned itself around and moved slowly back towards the dark trees and nothing. Then there was noise. A rustling and commotion, the sound of panting and running feet, and then an embrace. The Father had come!
The exchange -
It was the Father who finally turned the son around. “Ha! You do not think I would let you go again,” the Father spoke through bearded smile. The son, to overwhelmed, fell and could not lift his eyes or his hope for fear that it was not true. For hope is easy to lose and hard to regain. “Sir,” began the son, not daring to call him Father, “I am not worthy to be called your son. Please forgive me. Please, please just take me as your slave. I don’t even need to stay in your home, just let me stay in this beautiful place.”
“Son,” returned the Father, “I forgive you. Do you not remember what I told you when you left? From what I have you may take, because I love you. Be my son. That is what I want.”
A feast -
The Father and son returned to the farm arm in arm now being more aware of the beauty within than the beauty without. That night the whole farm feasted together like never before, because the son who was lost had been found.
There is more to be told. But I will leave that for another story.
But I will add this: There is a moral to be had from this story. The boy was lost. We can only be lost if there is such thing as being found—a place to be that once you are there you are found. Our hearts long for a home. They feel lost. The moral of the story is that there is a Father and you are a child. The moral of the story is “come home, hillbilly boy or girl!” Your spirit longs for it, but for a long time you have played in the city of sinful desire or sludged in the in trough of the pigs of depression and despair. “Go home, hillbilly boy or girl!” What awaits you is “foundess,” what waits is home. I do not pretend that all have memories of home for you are fond memories. Home may equal hurt for you. You have found pigs as companions even in the place you grew up. Perhaps you even grew up with the mean farmer as a father. Now that you have heard in this story of a good father and a warm home, I will tell you that it is true. You are loved and have been loved. God waits as a Father to welcome you home.