Homecoming is where the heart is
“If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a ‘wandering to find home,’ why should we not look forward to the arrival?”
Earlier today, one of my favorite bloggers asked what home meant to her readers. I think homesickness is something most of us can identify with and – while I’m an expert at literally nothing – I always have words that will spill out of my mouth pretending they are wizened to whatever subject is at hand, so I thought I’d lend them to the discussion. Let me subject you all to my feelings about home and homesickness as seen through the lens of Christ. There’s a lot to say, so brace yourselves.
Like Emily said, I don’t know that I haven’t always been a little homesick.
I have to keep reminding myself that what we think of as “home” is only a temporary accommodation. As Christians, we believe that people are all going to live forever, that our souls transcend mortality. Where believers end up is important and that place will be as wonderful and as glorious as our deepest, God-given desires have promised it to be.
But I am not one for throwing away our lives or our planet. That final place is a home that I can’t really even understand right now, so I am forced to invest myself where I find myself today. God needs us to live in the present.
As I mentioned, although the soul will transcend mortality, the body will not. It will have to be broken down and decayed and torn apart by disease and insects and all manner of nature before I ever get a new one. But there will be a redeemed body.
And as sure as there will be new bodies, there is also to be a new Earth, one that is our ultimate home.
But like I said, that place isn’t home for us just yet. It isn’t quite ready, perhaps. God may be still hanging and straightening the “welcome home” banner, trying to get it just right (while the Holy Spirit guides the process). Jesus is probably getting the food and drinks ready (multiplying fish and bread and turning water into wine, as he is prone to do.). And I don’t know why, but he hasn’t called me home yet. He hasn’t redeemed the world yet, either. Not yet, He keeps saying. But He knows what He’s doing. And so though this incredible, Jesus-is-right-with-you place will be home someday, I buy into the idea that home is where I am right now.
And that is my philosophy on home. Home is where God has placed me right this second of my life. True home, however beautiful, is not to be found by only gazing longingly into the equally inaccessible past or the future.
Let me try to give an example.
I am going to be a Resident Assistant on a large college campus this fall. Living in the dorms last year, I noticed that many of my friends often felt crushing homesickness. I am sure this problem will affect many of my residents this fall as well.
The problem comes not only from missing their loved ones, but also from a poisoned mentality. This mentality fails to recognize this campus as their new home. Despite what they think, home is not where their parents live. Home is not where they went to high school. They are from the suburbs, or the big city, but right now, that is not their home. Home for them right now is a crazy, cozy little dorm room packed into a big, bustling residence hall. Home is wherever you hang your hat.
And this is essential for them to understand.
I find that the students who tend to think of their new living conditions not as a building but as a community, not as a room but as their current home, are more satisfied with their time away at college. They are actively involved in restoring their immediate environment and creating a community of love, friendships, and trust. As they move on to other stages in their lives, they will learn that having once created their own homes away from home, they will be able to do it again someday…and they will do the exact same thing with future roommates and friends and someday with a spouse and children, with a family of their own. And I suspect they will be surprised by the familiar ease the task demands.
It is the necessity created by the reality of our immediate environment that drives us to create “home.” But home is transient. We know that we would do well not to grow too attached to one particular point in our life (think about all of the friends you have who only talk about “the glory days” of high school or college). If we lack a sense of constant (though shifting) home ownership and identity, we will miss out on what God is providing for us not five years ago or twenty years into the future, but right now!
On the other hand, we cannot make absolute our current and very partial idea of home. Home is always changing; we cannot risk making this flitting thing our greatest comfort in life. It would benefit us not to invest our complete hopes in wherever we find our current (temporary) homes. But don’t get me wrong: we still need to work with everything we’ve got every single day God gives us. And we need to do this exactly where and when God has placed us. At home. Today.
The Earth as it is now is not our final destination, but a fixed point in the present. Our hope should rest in the final, glorious homecoming that Jesus has promised us He would bring upon His return. But we also need to recognize that until then, home is where God has placed us right now. We need to invest ourselves in redeeming and serving those around us, dedicating ourselves to working to our fullest in our immediate environment.
So be homesick. We should be. Let it spur you on and remind you of the greatness soon to be revealed to us.
And someday, I know that I will be rewarded with my true home.
What does home mean to you?