A young man who was obviously depressed sat quietly in a railroad coach. Finally he revealed to a traveling companion that he was a paroled convict returning from a distant prison. His imprisonment had brought shame to his family, and they had neither visited him nor written often. He hoped, despite the evidence, that they had forgiven him.
To make it easy for them, however, he had written to them asking that they put up a signal for him when the train passed their little farm on the outskirts of town. If his family had forgiven him, they were to put up a white ribbon in the big apple tree which stood near the tracks. If they didn’t want him to return they were to do nothing, he would remain on the train as it traveled onward.
As the train neared his hometown, the suspense became so great that he couldn’t bear to look out of his window. He exclaimed, “In just five minutes the engineer will sound the whistle indicating our approach to the long bend which opens into the valley I know as home. Will you watch for the apple tree at the side of the track?” His companion said he would, and they exchanged places. The minutes seemed like hours, but then there came the shrill sound of the train whistle. The young man asked, “Can you see the tree? Is there a white ribbon?”
Came the reply, “I see the tree. I see not only white ribbon, but many. There is a white ribbon on every branch. Son, someone surely does love you.”
Someone surely does love you, too. The white ribbon of forgiveness is offered to anyone that is willing to return broken and repentant to a loving Heavenly Father. As we continue on The Road Home together as we look at what it really means to repent.
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