A young man named Mose walked down a dirt road, with nothing but the homemade clothes on his back. Everything he had ever known was behind him.
Arranged in secret several days before, his brother picked him up at a crossroads. They drove almost eight hundred miles west, every mile deepening the chasm between him and the God he knew.
To leave the Amish was to abandon his only hope of heaven. Mose didn’t know if it would be worth it.
Settled in a family member’s home, his new life began. He acquired his driver’s license, bought his first vehicle and held a good job. On the surface, everything seemed wonderful. He listened to all the country music his heart desired, wore denim jeans and a cowboy hat, and owned a truck. An Amish boy’s dream.
But inside his heart, Mose was full of doubts and fears. “Did I do the right thing? Is God angry with me? If I die, will I go to hell because I left?”
Letter after letter after letter arrived, begging him to come home. His family’s hearts were broken. They reminded him of the eternal significance of his decision. Warned that those who leave lay on their deathbeds desperately wishing they had never left home. Died while repenting for forsaking their only hope of pleasing an angry God.
Life went on for a year, as Mose wrestled within his soul. Was he right with God? What would happen to him if he died “out here”?
He determined in his mind that he would go home, like the prodigal son. Live the life he was born to live. Obey the rules, and be a good Amish man for the rest of his days.
A friend dropped him off at his parent’s home. His family rejoiced, for the prodigal had returned.
Mose put on his homemade clothes. Lived in obedience to his parents. Embraced everything being Amish meant.
The first church Sunday arrived. He sat on a wooden bench with other men. He gazed at the worn wooden planks, looking at the floor along with everyone else. The preacher’s sing-song voice echoed through the home, as the German words filled the air. Mose could only understand an occasional phrase.
His heart beat expectantly. He waited for assurance that salvation was here. That this was where he was meant to be. He ached for peace to fill his heart. To know that he was right with God because he had returned to his people.
Yet God appeared to be hiding. Or He had turned His face away. He seemed as mysterious and distant as the foreign language the preachers spoke.
Why was God so hard to find? Why was it impossible to grasp hold of peace?
Stepping outside in the light of day when the service ended, he knew he couldn’t stay.
There was no peace with God for him in the Amish life. God had distanced himself, and Mose knew he could never be good enough to find Him. Never follow the rules perfectly like he should. Never make his heart pure enough to enter His heaven.
The scales weighed against him, and he was found wanting.
Instead of striving the rest of his life to meet the impossible standard of perfection, Mose gave up. He hoped there was an answer for him, somewhere. He knew he would have to leave to find it.
Three weeks after going home, the prodigal son left once again. This time he traveled eastward, to the area where he had lived for his first 17 years.
Life went on. He bought another car and found a job. Wore his favorite Wranglers.
Firm in his decision, he went with the flow of life on the outside. But inwardly, his emptiness and soul-yearning remained.
A question haunted his heart- maybe God could still be found? So Mose went looking.
He began attending a Bible study faithfully and even began going to an “English” church.
The preaching was in the English language. The Bibles were in English. For the first time in his entire life, he could hear and read God’s Word in a language he could understand.
Slowly, it all began to make sense.
One night, all the questions were more than Mose could bear. He called Joe Keim, a missionary to the Amish and former Amish. He poured out his heart, full of fear and longing.
Can I go to heaven if I wear store-bought shirts and jeans instead of homemade Amish clothes?
Can I go to heaven if I use a combine instead of horse-drawn equipment?
Can I go to heaven if I use electricity instead of kerosene lanterns?
Question after question poured out of his burdened heart.
Mose heard the most amazing answer.
Yes. Yes, you can. Because it’s not about you.
You can never be good enough on your own. You can never attain God’s standard of perfection.
And God knew that you couldn’t. For He became a man, perfectly lived out His demands, fulfilling His perfect law. Then God died the death we should have. Carried our sins on His shoulders, and paid the wages of our sin.
But it didn’t end there. He rose again so we can have newness of life and be born again unto a living hope.
Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Mose wept, shedding the pain and fear that had weighed his heart from his earliest memories. Wept, because He finally understood God loved him. He wasn’t just an angry, vengeful God, keeping a tally of all his sins and failures to be weighed against his good deeds at the end of life.
God paid God’s price for salvation. And now, it was offered to Mose freely. All he had to do was believe, and receive it.
The first heartfelt prayer he had ever prayed flowed from Mose’s lips. He cried out, and God heard.
At that moment, he became a new creature, for the old had gone and the new had come.
Mose now knew eternal life wasn’t a knowledge hidden until death like he had been taught. Something he had to hope and pray for all his life, to find out only after he died if he had done enough.
It was something to know now. Here.
He was right with God. All he had been searching for was found.
The boy who walked down that dirt road had truly come home. Home to the heart of God.