I remember being touched by the popular song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” It tells of a man who’s been sent to prison. He’s served his time and is now coming home on the bus. But he admits that she who once loved him has every right to reject him. He’s to blame. So he’s written to tell her that if she forgives him, she should “tie a yellow ribbon ’round the old oak tree.” If there’s no yellow ribbon, he’ll just go riding by on the bus.
As the miles roll by, all the man thinks about is that oak tree. When he gets home, will there be a yellow ribbon on it?
The song ends in triumph with the entire busload of people cheering as the man sees not one but a hundred yellow ribbons on that old oak tree! His lover not only forgives him, but she exuberantly welcomes him home.
Like the man on the bus, we’re fearful of death and what’s ahead. We know our own hearts, and we wonder if God will really forgive us, let alone celebrate our coming.
But the Word assures us of God’s welcome. The yellow ribbons will be there.
Harold L. Myra, Living by God’s Surprises (Word, 1988); quoted in Men of Integrity (January/February 2001)