Home Sweet Home

In another post, I reflected on God’s faithfulness to us on our ‘sometimes blindfolded’ nomadic journey–a familiar journey to the writer of Hebrews who said,  “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Heb 11:8)

Continuing on that theme, lately I’ve been pondering the question, ‘Where and what is home?’   Maybe it’s because I’m always reminded of my status when I tick the ‘temporary resident’ box on my Arrivals customs card, or maybe it’s because we’ve spent a good portion of this year on the road.  Then again I could be thinking about one stretch a few months ago where we were paying for housing on three different continents at the same time.  Whatever the reason, that question of ‘home’ has been a recurring theme.

To be honest, sometimes this nomadic calling weighs heavily on our shoulders, particularly when we’re not able to attend special events like weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, and just being there to walk alongside family and friends through life’s trials and tests.  We greatly appreciate the fact that technology allows us to be only a couple of clicks away from an iMessage, Skype, or email, but often our hearts yearn for the ‘more’.

the hugs.
the laughter.
Mom’s blueberry pie.
the shared tears.
the late-into-the-night conversations that aren’t regulated by bandwidth or time-zone
or replaced by a Pinterest pin.

We love our missional community/family here in our ‘home away from home’.  We also love the nations and peoples God has sent us to, but the ache of separation from family and friends never diminishes.  It’s part and parcel with ‘our calling’.  It forces us to look heavenward for comfort, and to passages like Hebrews 11 which I have highlighted in my Bible and revisited many times in the past 10 years.  These words are a greater inspiration to me today than ever:

“And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents.… Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God…. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11: 9-10, 13-16)

During the process of getting this article together I got an update from my sister Joan, living and working with another mission organisation in Latin America.  To my surprise she was reflecting on the very same topic:

Anywhere we are with God is home! Even though we may not be able to easily answer the “where is home?” question, regarding a geographic location, “home” in the spiritual is, well, God Himself…

There are so many trends, strategies, or Bible studies we can teach about discipleship and mission training. There are innumerable evangelistic outreaches or social justice missions we can send people on. All of it is appropriate training for fulfilling Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations. However, it seems that God’s central theme of His story throughout all of Scripture and all history is His longing to be our Home. When His longing becomes our longing, then our earthly dwelling is really secondary to the blessing of God-alive making Himself Home in us.

If we send people out to do the works of God without making certain that their Home travels with them, we have not faithfully prepared them. Discipleship is inviting another to see the Father as my Home so that He becomes their Home.

Music often takes me to a higher place, and over the past few years, I’ve been repeatedly moved to tears by an album called ‘Here’s My Home’ from a group of worshipers at Edge Kingsland church in Auckland, New Zealand.  The unifying theme and message is simple and profound… our ‘home sweet home’ is in the presence of God, which isn’t dependent on any particular postal code.

I was lost but now I’m found.
Now I know the sweetest sound.
Father’s love and hope surround … here’s my home.

That’s what drives us to keep doing what we do.  There are still countless millions in dark corners of the planet who have never experienced that warmth–that unconditional love–of ‘Home’ like we have.  Maybe when Jesus says “There’s more than enough room in my Father’s home” he wasn’t just referring to the ever-after land of heaven, but about our Father, who stands with outstretched arms and a welcome sign over his door, calling us back in the ‘here and now’.   As a mission hero of mine, Heidi Baker says:  ‘Father wants his House full.’

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