As I look back on moving to the cities a month ago, the question that has often passed through my thoughts is, what truly makes a place home?
Is a place home simply because we physically live there? Is a place home because we were born in a particular town? What about the place our friends and family live? Are our houses homes because we feel at rest in them? What really makes a place home?
Tell Me Where My Home Is
One of Bebo Norman’s songs begins with this line, “Some say home is where the heart is. Tell me where my home is, because I am scared to death.” Most of us have a low-grade fear of not having a home, not belonging, not having that “first space” where we spend the silent, quiet pieces of our lives. We fear the unknowns and uncertains of life, because we feel like we are a piece of a puzzle that was put in the wrong box. It obviously sticks out and no matter how much forcing you do, it simply will not blend in with the rest of the puzzle.
We want to feel “at home” in our work places, in our relationships, and in the places we spend the majority of our time. Many of us are our realest selves when we feel at ease in our environments and with the people we are with. And if we make a move, we try to make our new places feel like “home” as soon as possible. We run from the unease of places that don’t make our hearts feel safe and try to hurriedly concoct homey places for our lives.
So, what happens when we do not have that place to call home? What do we do when we are confronted with the truth that where we currently are does not hold our hearts—at all? How do we pursue Jesus with our whole hearts when our hearts do not know where home is?
No Home Here
In Luke 9, several would-be followers of Jesus give him reasons as to why they are unable to immediately follow Jesus. Jesus calls out the first man, by telling him that “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” If anyone was to ever not feel at home, it would be Jesus. He left everything beautiful and familiar to come be with us. And yet, in the midst of having no home, his only aim was to do the will of his Father (John 4:34; 6:38).
And lest we think that it is hard to relate to Jesus, we have numerous other examples of Bible characters who had their lives uprooted from their homes. Abraham left his previous life behind, not knowing what the promises of God were going to look like for his life. Joseph spent the best years of his life in a foreign country. Many people and prophets lived in exile—never to return to their homes. Ruth left her relatives to follow her mother-in-law back to her home. The disciple John spent the last years of his life on an island—alone. But these people all followed a God far larger and greater than their ideals of home, native countries, and familiar people. And while some of these people would return to their homelands and the people who held the largest pieces of their hearts, their feelings of home were very much a secondary thing compared to looking at the greatness of God and his sovereign plans for their lives. In the questions, the darkness, and the loneliness, they poured out their hearts to God and trusted that God was with them in all of it (Gen. 39).
In the New Testament, Peter writes to a group of exiles, giving them encouragement and strength for what they were facing. He doesn’t hold out comfort to them like a cozy blanket. He turns things upside down, by telling them that their homes are not here on earth. No matter if they are in their familiar physical locations or not, this is not their home. They are sojourners awaiting a home with their Savior. Their inheritance is being kept for them—in heaven with Jesus (1 Peter 1:4).
Paul does much the same thing in his letter to the Philippians, by telling his readers that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (3:20). Home is to come, not here.
Neither Peter nor Paul offer wishy washy soap suds comfort to their readers who feel that they have no home. They remind these groups of people of who they are in Jesus. And remind them of Jesus.
My Heart is With You
In Bebo Norman’s same song, he closes by saying that “Some say home is where the heart is, and my heart is in your hands. You are all I need.”
Friends, our home is with Jesus. He is all we need. When it is all said and done, it won’t matter if we felt at ease for 60-80 years down here. It won’t matter if our dwellings ever cradled our hearts and lives like we wanted them to. Our hearts are with Jesus, and a heart that is resting in our Savior is far more at home than we could ever find in a cabin by the lake or a cottage by the sea. We are called to follow Jesus, no matter how it feels. May the hollowness we feel in these less than homey places we live our lives in drive us to Jesus. He is the only one worthy of the fullness of our hearts and the entirety of our lives. Home is with Jesus.