Where is Home?
Today, this question called for a long walk to think it over.
Immediately, my mind went to my house. Big and yellow and just a few blocks behind me. The building that houses my family, my dog, and all my possessions. The place where I rest my head each night, and where I gather with the people closest to me to share meals, laughter, and fellowship.
But that didn't seem quite right.
So I thought about my little prairie town. Where my family and friends live. Where I see my classmates and coworkers. The location of my school, my church, and my various workplaces. The place where most of my memories were formed. The place where I know every house and street and alleyway.
But that's not really it, either.
My mind drifted to my birthplace. Vancouver Island. The place that gave me my love for the ocean, the mountains, and the forests. The place that gave me my very first friends, and my very first memories. The place that gave me the most wonderful summers and the most fragrant springs. The place of my innocence.
But that still doesn't cut it.
For most people, any one of these answers would do. Maybe all of them meet the necessary criteria to be called "Home." But not for me. Perhaps you can guess why.
Would you believe me if I told you that I am not from this world? Would you believe me if I told you that I'm actually just visiting? That my home is somewhere else- somewhere I've never been nor seen? That if you're my brother or sister in Christ, you're going there with me?
You may know I'm talking about Heaven, and you may believe in it, too. But chances are if I actually referred to Heaven as my home while I was here among the living, you'd think me odd. We just don't talk about Heaven that way, at least not in the day-to-day. Talk of Heaven as our Homeland is reserved for church services and funerals. But as we go about our daily lives, we are expected to live like citizens of the world and play the part of earthly residents. That's why we care so much about our earthly homes. It's why we think so often about our days on this planet. You can't deny it, and neither can I. We are full-fledged earthlings, as far as the onlookers are concerned.
Think about it. To what extent do you go to keep your house in beautiful condition, decorated and designed to impress your guests? How often do you find yourself frustrated with the state of your closet, and long to go on an all-out shopping spree to satisfy your weathered look? How much do you fret over finances? How much of your time is spent feeling sorry for yourself when you're excluded by friends, or when you're going through a rough time at your job? How much of your time is spent praising yourself for your popularity or promotion?
All these things are fading fast, and you know it. It says so in that Book that you claim to base your life on. You say you believe in God, which means you must believe in Heaven. You must believe you're going there. Yet, you fuss over the colour of your walls. Based on your beliefs, you don't even live here. Yet, you spend your time and energy and money on things that only fill a physical craving for pleasure. According to your faith, you're life's purpose is to work for eternity. Yet, your thoughts are consumed with the present and your time is filled with self-gratification. What gives?
Say you go on vacation for a week. The hotel you're staying in is outdated. The bedspreads are horrendous, the curtains are faded, and you don't even want to know what has been on the carpets. The walls are yellowing and the furniture doesn't match. Do you fret? Do you bite your nails in aggravation? Do you pace the carpet till it's worn thin? Do you go out and buy new bedding, or repaint the suite? To you replace the curtains and renovate the kitchenette?
Of course not. That would be absurd. You know you're not staying there, and you know that you can live with it in the meantime. It's still usable, and that's all that matters. You remember you have beautiful bedspreads on your own bed in your own house, so there's no reason to worry.
Why don't we think that way in about our lives? It would surely make a difference if we did. I envy my friends' clothes. I go to the store and my eyes gleam when I see every "new and improved" product and formula. If I leave a shopping mall without buying anything, I feel grumpy and let down.
We have gone to every extent to make sure our stay on earth is comfortable, and we haven't finished yet. From home furnishings to spring fashions, from labour-saving devices to boredom-busting toys, people have the mindset that they belong on earth, and after they die, they're gone. So with this way of thinking, it makes sense to shop all day, party all night, eat, drink, and be merry. "Life's too short to be anything but happy," is what they say.
But they are mistaken. Life's too short to waste time seeking happiness from what the world has to offer. Because if you are seeking happiness in the things of this world, you're wasting your life. It's hopeless. Happiness only comes from one thing, and that's a relationship with God.
Excuse the Ecclesiastical echoes, but if everything on earth is destined to fade away, then what's the point? If our attempts at fame and fortune are futile, why are we here? If everything is meaningless, what are we still doing here?
Ah. And there's the dilemma that brings us to Jesus's life-changing question: Where does your treasure lie?
Matthew 6:19-21 - Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I sure would like to say that my heart is set on glory. I sure would like to know that my treasure is in Heaven. If I don't belong on this earth, then it only makes sense that my heart shouldn't be attached to the things of this world, either.
1 Peter 2:11 - Dear friends, I warn you as "temporary residents and foreigners" to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.
1 John 2:15-17 - Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
You say you rely on God, but do you really? Or have you simply gotten everything you need for yourself, and therefore have no need of Him? You say you trust God, but is that truly the case? Or do you simply go ahead with all your own plans and devices, asking Him to bless you as you go on your way?
And even if we can bring ourselves to believe that God is our provider and that we are Heaven-bound, what are we meant to do in the meantime? What's the purpose of our existence? Why can't we get to Heaven now, if that's where we're going, anyways?
Take a look around, and you'll find the answer. It lies in the people around you. The people who aren't on their way home, because they're already there. They are of the world. At home in their skin, and dead in their sin.
We may be on our way to an eternal Home, but that's only because of a free gift we received without merit. He gave it to us freely, even though we didn't deserve it in the least. Before we were condemned, before we were sentenced to eternal damnation, the court was silenced. We were stood up, and we were released. Our place was taken by another man. An innocent man. And when we asked Him why, His answer was, "It's a gift. You are forgiven, and you are free. You have been invited to live forever, along with everyone else who accepts the invitation."
After receiving such a pardon, who could ever go by themselves to enjoy their gift? I didn't deserve this gift of salvation, but I have it. And I am no better or worse than anybody else. I've been given grace. I've been shown mercy, that I might show it to others. I've been loved, that I might love others in return.
This heavenly homeland is open to all, my friends,
and that is the point.
To spread the good news to all creation. To give a cup of cold water to the least of these in Jesus's name. To store up our treasures in heaven. That's what this is all about. And when my time is up, my utmost desire is to hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
I don't want to live my life in vain, when I've been given so much. So I'm not going to get comfortable where I am. I won't be stagnant. I will submit to His call, I will obey His commission.
So the truth is, I'm not from here. I'm a stranger. I'm just passing through on my way Home.
It's true, I've never been Home, but I know that it's where I'm going.
And once I get there, I ain't ever coming back.