Whenever Jim goes to bed or takes a nap, I am usually there. We read a story, say prayers, he typically tries to stall, and I kiss him good night. But there are times, like the nights when I’m in class, when I cannot be there for bedtime and things still go quite smoothly. But when I walk in his room the next morning, almost without fail, Jim will smile and say, “Daddy came back.”
It is one of the best things about being a dad. It also one of the most heartbreaking things because there is a kernel of “What if Daddy doesn’t come back?” in that statement. And so I usually smile back and say, “Yeah Buddy, Daddy is always going to come back.”
I realize that cannot be entirely true. Something will happen to me one day that will take me from the land of the living. But when I say that to my two and a half year old son, what I’m saying is, “As long as there is breath in my lungs, I am always going to come back. I’m always going to be here for you.” Because he’s my son and I love him so much.
I don’t often think about the importance of Jesus coming back. I recognize implicitly that it is important. I think the Left Behind series soured me on thinking about it too much. Jesus coming back and God’s reign coming to fruition on earth is not going to look like a baptized diet Tom Clancy thriller anyway. It’s going to be something far greater than our collective imaginations could foster. Then there is the whole idea that God is with us, through the Holy Spirit. So it’s not like God has gone away. So I don’t really dwell on that idea.
Yet I get that picture in my head of a creation that has been hurting, groaning, limping towards the Kingdom, and then one day everything is made right. We look at our Creator with relief and joy and say, “You came back.” That is something that I have to believe in. That is something that, though I do not think about it often, is integral to my faith. I need God to come back. I need to have that be a part of the story: that we are God’s children and God loves us so much.
And though I cannot prove it or make any sort of airtight, rational case for why, I have faith, I hope that God will come back.