I’m Coming Home

           It probably comes as no surprise to anybody that I don’t have a lot of hip-hop on my I-Pod playlist.  There’s a little Lecrae, a couple of Toby Mac albums and a few other cuts, but that’s about it.  I don’t even stop much at urban mix radio stations.

So, it’s a little weird that a recent song by Diddy Dirty Money has caught my ear. (Diddy Dirty Money is the latest incarnation of the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy, Sean Combs or P. Diddy)  The song is “Coming Home” and it features this haunting chorus sung by Skylar Grey:

I’m coming home

I’m coming home

tell the World I’m coming home

Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday

I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes

I’m coming home, I’m coming home

tell the World that I’m coming home.

            Now, you’ve got to admit that’s a fascinating lyric. There’s yesterday’s pain and  hope for a fresh start tomorrow.  There’s confession of mistakes and forgiveness.  There’s been a season of wandering and still a place called Home remains, a place that has never moved. There’s even a kingdom waiting to be claimed.

            The verses invite those listening to identify with the longing and come along on the journey:

                                    if you with me put your hands high…

                                    if you ever lost a light before, this ones for you.

       Then the song gets transparently confessional

       +about self-identity:

                                    What am I supposed to do when the club lights come one

                                    It’s easy to be Puff, it’s harder to be Sean 

          +about the overwhelming responsibilities of parenting

                                    What if the twins asked why I ain’t marry their mom

                                    How do I respond?

                                    What if my son stares at me with a face like my own

                                    And says he wants to be like me when he’s grown?

                                    ….I ain’t finished growing.  

            +about disappointment over the struggle to be better

                                    another night the inevitable prolongs

                                    another day, another dawn

                                    tell Taneka and Taresha I’ll be better in the morn,

                                    another lie that I carry on

                                    I need to get back to the place that I belong (chorus)

            +about the hungers that money can’t satisfy

                                    You felt it and still feel it

                                    And money can’t make up for it or conceal it

            + about a relationship that may not be what it should be

                                  Baby, we’ve been living in sin because we’ve been really in love

                                  But we’ve been living as friends

                                  So you’ve been a guest in your own home

                                  It’s time to make your house your home   (Chorus)

          And all the while, in the background of this living, there is the sense that the place
for a reset, the one place to get perspective, and a fresh start, is home.

                                    It’s what made me, saved me, drove me crazy

                                    Drove me away and then embraced me

                                    Forgave me for all my shortcomings

                                    Welcome to my homecoming

                                    Yeah, it’s been a long time coming

                                     lot of fights, lot of scars,

                                     lot of bottles, lot of cars,

                                     lot of ups, lot of downs

                                    made it back, lost my dog (I miss you BIG)

                                    and here I stand, a better man!

                                    Thank you Lord.

            Did you catch that?  There is a realization that there is a God behind all of this. A God who would preserve and forgive and shape and get you back Home.

            As Jesus said, “you are not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34)

            Evangelical churches like ours have been struggling for some time to reach the 20-35 generation.  Churched kids drop out at alarming rates (7 of 10 active youth group members will not be in any church by age 22).  Many young people grow up without a faith element to their life at all or spin the religious wheel of fortune to see where they will land for awhile.  We wring our hands and wonder: how will we ever reach them?

            And all the while, they are singing along to songs like this.  This is a song of the prodigal, who is coming to his senses, and realizing that maybe there is something at Home after all.  This is a heart longing for there to be such a thing as gospel, some good news.

            And we have a gospel that offers identity beyond the cultural moment, satisfaction for every longing, forgiveness for our mistakes, healing for our pain, acceptance by mercy not performance, real love to give away in relationships, and strength to overcome our weaknesses. On top of that, there really is a Kingdom that we are heir to and a King who is also our holy, good, kind and strong Father.

            All we have to do is get the yearning young and Jesus’ gospel together.  You how we do that?

By love.

Sacrificial, giving,

weeping, praying,

going, accepting,

adjusting my preferences for another,

all things to all people to save some,

dying to self like Jesus bleeding on the cross

love.

            There’s an old song that I’ll bet neither Diddy Dirty Money nor Skylar Grey have heard.  It was written over 100 years ago by Methodist choir director William Kirkpatrick, specifically for a young and talented singer who would sing at camp meetings and then leave before the sermon. Kirkpatrick feared the young musician had never known Jesus’ love.  He prayed and wrote a song that he had the young man sing that night.  After singing these words, the young man was struck to the heart, stayed to hear the gospel message and came to trust Jesus.

            This is what he sang:

                   I’ve wandered far away from God,

                  Now I’m coming home;

                  The paths of sin too long I’ve trod,

                   Lord, I’m coming home.

Chorus:

Coming home, coming home,

Nevermore to roam,

Open wide Thine arms of love,

Lord, I’m coming home.

 

                      I’ve wasted many precious years,

                      Now I’m coming home;

                      I now repent with bitter tears,

                      Lord, I’m coming home.  (Chorus)

 

                      I’ve tired of sin and straying, Lord,

                      Now I’m coming home;

                      I’ll trust Thy love, believe Thy word,

                     Lord, I’m coming home.  (Chorus)

 

                      My soul is sick, my heart is sore,

                     Now I’m coming home;

                      My strength renew, my hope restore,

                   Lord, I’m coming home. (Chorus)

            It’s not the world the next generation needs to come Home to; it’s Jesus.  That’s where the heart’s Home is, full of mercy and grace.

When they turn Home, they have to see Somebody on the porch, welcoming and inviting them with wide-open arms.

The Somebody is Jesus, of course.

But the only way they will see His arms is when our arms are flung wide open, welcoming and inviting them to

                Come Home.

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