When we close our eyes and picture home, the elements are never far removed. Hot or cold, wet or dry, beach or mountain, fire or ice. It’s what we feel, what we dream, what we embody. Home is always a place, and who we are is grounded in that big or small plot of ground.
I grew up in the cold winters of Minnesota, and I used to feel at home amongst ice. Summer gardens gone under deep snow, and tree branches brittle and dripping with ornate, frozen glass. I looked forward to the days turning cold, the first snow of the season and the silence of winter days. The cold air that froze my cheeks felt familiar, and the white and black scenery that unfolded each November was a picture of beauty. Our family’s survival in this tundra was always a sense of Midwestern pride, and my nostalgia for this place grows with each passing year that I’m away.
But that doesn’t mean that wintry home didn’t also have its dangers. Though I still marvel at the way ice forms mosaic imprints across a lake, I’ll never forget the winter I fell through a broken sheet of ice and almost drowned, the cold waters rushing over me and paralyzing my legs in an instant. The freezing temperatures were a nightmare to the poor and the homeless, a shadow of death that lingered for more than nine months each year. And the threat of children going missing amid snow tunnels and wintry playscapes still haunts my old school yard. The north was my home, but it was far from perfect. The place I lived in is a part of who I am. It’s proudly weaved into many of my pleasures and secretly hidden within many of my pains.
The beauty and wonder of it all is that the God who made the world and everything in it ordained the boundaries of my home as well (Acts 17:26-27). God sovereignly orchestrated the earthly places I call home, while also giving me a longing desire for a greater, heavenly home.
Beloved, we were created for home. When God first made man and woman, His next creative act was to shelter them; the two were inextricably linked from the very beginning. Genesis 2:8-9 tells us, “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”
This first home for humans was a lush paradise. It was a place where they belonged, where their connection to God was secure and their identity assured. They were nourished and cared for, and they knew peace. It was perfect in every way.
Then, because of sin, this Edenic home was lost, and our quest for home has continued ever since. Our depravity left a gaping hole in the heart of satisfaction, and our frailty brought enjoyment to its knees.
We don’t always feel God’s nearness inside the four walls of our home. We miss our mothers and our children — the people now gone, whose lives can never be replaced. There is often chaos and disorder and pain, instead of peace. There are dirty dishes and unfolded laundry, empty beds and empty cupboards and even emptier purses. Long gone are the spaces for solitude, quiet, and rest. There are times when we don’t even want to go home.
It’s been many years now since Minnesota was home. My feet have taken me from Chicago to Berlin and even to India. Recently, I moved in among the bramble, the cacti, and the rosemary bushes of the Southwest. I abandoned the snow for tufts of weeds, enveloped with sand, and the burning hot sun that scorches the skin and dries out river beds. This is a place that doesn’t yet fully feel like home, but I am learning to love it nonetheless.
Now, every time I still feel misplaced among the thistles and the thorns, every time I feel disconnected from the sandy ground upon which I walk, I’m reminded that my true home is still to come. Thanks be to God that the home He is preparing for us is not eternally lost!
One day, God will bring us home again, and it will be a home even better than the original garden of Adam and Eve. In this new home, we will once again belong. We will know peace, and death and pain will be no more. God promises that He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and that we will no longer have reason to cry (Revelation 21:4).
We were made for home, but our true and lasting home is not of this world. We will feel this lack keenly in the present, at some times greater than others. But may we not lose hope because true rest is coming, true peace is coming. Let us press on while it is still called day, for God will one day call us home.
We were made for home, but our true and lasting home is not of this world. -@dr_reyes2: Click To Tweet