Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Is Heaven our Only Beloved Home?

One of my heroes, Billy Graham, is known for saying "My home is in heaven. I'm just traveling through this world." True, when we only consider the overwhelming enormity of eternity. 

However, missionaries - or any expat worker - should understand the fact that sometimes it is hard to choose to love... learn to love... or persevere in loving... that place and those people to which God has called us. In fact, just a few days ago, Ashley posted about this. This is especially true if we only consider the place a transient place, a place we can leave if it gets too hard or too uncomfortable or, in our opinion, too purposeless.

Easy to do, when our lives are full of transition... after transition... after transition... 

It would be nice if our ministries were always filled with warm fuzzies, deepening love, a good dose of nostalgia and always forward looking and measurable forward progress. If there was never any nastiness, violent and angry words, depressing divisions and certainly never any of the infamous instances of taking two steps forward only to slide back three. 

But they aren't.

Never say never... always avoid always... 

At least that's my strategy. It helps keep me a little more honest.

Focusing so much on heaven can distract from the here and now... resulting in aimlessness and to becoming of "no earthly good." Riveting eyes and efforts on the here and now only can overwhelm any hope of heaven to come and floundering and purposeless.

Reading through John 1 today, in the New Living Translation - not my normal version of the Bible, I stopped to meditate on verse 14: "So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son."

Normally, I've heard that verse rendered: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." But today reading "made His home" started me thinking.

We define a home as the physical residence or shelter of a person or household... But more profoundly, home is (according to dictionary.com) also the place where affections are centered, a place of retreat or refuge. Frankly, a home must be made - whether by the person him/herself... or for him/her by others. It requires effort. Once you move in to the actual physical residence, more work is necessary. Stuff has to be put into its place, pictures on the wall, curtains in the windows, bedrooms assigned, towels folded, pantry filled. 

Then comes the work of figuring out routines and quirks to fit the new home. Where's actually the best place to put that kitchen table so that everyone can fit and move around the table? You try something and it doesn't work so you tweek it... or try something totally different. What's the best schedule to fit everyone through the shower when there are several of you sharing limited space. Sometimes there are arguments and disagreements about how something should work out. Living with other people calls for both dependence and independence, and keeping on at keeping on to find the balance.

A home doesn't just happen. It takes effort.

What kind of effort did Jesus put into making His home among us? What effort does He continue to make as He makes His home in the hearts of those who've invited Him in? He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. He stayed near to the heart of his Father, always keeping heaven in view. In so doing, He revealed/reveals His Father to us.

The only way to make a home on this earth, in whatever place God has us for however long He chooses to keep us there, is to follow this example of the Son. 

That means lots of hard work and hope, patience and persistence - for me; it also necessitates dependence on the One Who's unfailing love and faithfulness is available for me whenever I ask... and sometimes even when I forget to or choose not to.

This makes me think of the words of a song that my girls all really like right now, Home, by Philip Phillips:

Hold on to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along

Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble—it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

I don't know about you, but I find it encouraging to know that the same Jesus who made a home among us is not bound by space or time. In that sense, He is still making His home among us.

It is one of the many ways He demonstrates His love for us...

1 comment:

  1. I agree. While we know that earth is just a temporary home, we still need to make it home. And that can take a lot of work when there is transition after transition.