Altar Call -- Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
Feb. 18, 2001

The old white house has finally lost its attraction for me

I still drive by it occasionally but the old white house has finally lost its attraction for me. No longer do I have the compulsion to stop and go in.

I was born there during the Great Depression. My father built the house by himself, with the help of one day laborer. He had no training in construction but he did a good job. The house still stands on a sturdy foundation.

My nephew John Flomer lives in the house now with his family. John has fixed the roof and made other improvements. Now his children are making memories as they grow up there much as my siblings and I did many years ago.

The house has many dear memories for me since I was born there and lived there for the first 18 years of my life. My mother made everybodyís birthday a celebration with a cake, balloons, and party hats. I can easily recall many of those birthday parties and the games we played in the big front yard. With our friends who came to share those times we played "hide and seek" and other games like croquet.

The highlight of my early teen years was the fun of having a pony named Josephine. That pony was as dear to me for several years as Trigger was to Roy Rogers.

My fascination with Josephine faded when, at age 15, I passed the test and received my driverís license. I think 1945 was the only year that the minimum age was lowered from 16. My friends say that they raised the age back to 16 after they saw me driving.

But I really learned how to drive when I was eight or nine. Around the farm I would drive the truck for my dad while hauling hay and feed to the cows. So I knew how to drive long before the state and my dad trusted me to drive on the highway.

After college and marriage my old home place drew me back like a magnet. My parents were there, living into their mid-nineties, so celebrations like July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas brought me, my wife, and my children back home. It was like there was an unspoken law that we had to go back home on those special occasions.

Now that my parents are dead, and another family lives in the old house, things are different. The house does not attact me as it once did. I can drive by without feeling any compulsion to pull into the driveway. And I know why the magnetism is gone.

What drew me back home over so many years was that my parents lived in that old house. It was their unfailing love that brought me back home. Even if I had neglected to call or write for weeks, there was no reprimand but a joyous welcome whenever I appeared. I can still see the glad smile on my fatherís face when I showed up unannounced. He was never too busy to drop whatever he was doing to offer me and my family his gracious greeting.

Perhaps that is why the world loves so much the greatest story Jesus ever told, the one about the prodigal son coming home. In that story is the ultimate picture of God: a loving Father who has no reprimand but a tender embrace as he folds his son in his arms and says, "Welcome home my dear child!"

Yes, the old house has lost its hold on me. I am no longer drawn to it. But inside me I do still feel a longing for home. Maybe that is why God allows us to live in families, so that we can learn that at the end of the road there is loving Father waiting to welcome us home.