What creates the feeling of being “home”? Does our experience of home point to something deeply spiritual and eternal?
I have lived in Wasilla since May of 1991. I just returned home from being out-of-state for two months. I had gone to be with my 95-year-old mother who was dying from cancer in Florida. I loved her and I loved her home which held so many memories and beautiful things that belonged to her and my dad who had been together for 70 years. They lived in that house for over 20 years and I had gone there every 3 – 6 months for as many visits as I could. If anywhere in the world other than my own home felt like home, it was this place.
Once Mom passed away on January 16th, we traveled to my hometown in New Jersey for her memorial service and burial. Middletown had been my hometown for the first 22 years of my life. So many of the surroundings had not changed, but, of course, many had. On our last day in the area, my husband and I had a few hours to drive around. We boldly drove down the private drive of the home my parents had built in the 1950s—the home I had grown up in until I went to college. As we drew closer to the house, we realized it was deserted. The home was no longer cared for and looked like it was beginning to deteriorate. Parts of the acreage had been sold off and developed for new housing, erasing the beautiful fields that had once been there. I couldn’t bear it; I asked my husband to please drive away. It was no longer the home I remembered.
We flew back to Florida and began the painful, difficult task of dismantling my mother’s home and preparing to sell it. Every room and item held a memory of our family. The concept of “home” began to feel scrambled in my heart. As the weeks went by and Mom’s house began to look less and less like the home it had once been, I wanted to go home to the house in Wasilla where my husband and I live.
The comforts of home are palpable as I sit here listening to the hum of the crackling fireplace, my dog licking his paw while he keeps me company, and the washer filling with water on the other side of the wall. My coffee is made the way I like it and is in my favorite mug. My most comfortable pajamas, my perfect-weight blanket, and my coziest chair all surround me as I look out the window at Pioneer Peak. The tangible things I am surrounded by all combine in my senses to create the feeling that I am home.
As I think about this subject, I’m reminded of when we moved into this house 16 years ago. At the time, it was a fixer-upper and nothing felt right for quite a while. Everything about it was unfamiliar. I grieved the loss of the home we had left, a home we had dreamed of, designed, and built from the ground up. I cried when I left. My new house didn’t FEEL like home.
God silently spoke to me one morning as I spent time alone with Him and grieved my former home. He clearly impressed on my heart that HE was my home. My intimate relationship with Him was the place my heart was to dwell—the place I was to seek comfort, to seek belonging, to know safety, to know joy. Once that thought made its way into my heart, I was home. I was free to nest in His presence and find comfort there.
This morning, as my husband and I read Psalm 26 written by King David, I tuned in to verse 8. It said “Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” Even though I have been soaking up the enjoyment of being back in my own house, I am reminded that this temporal feeling of home can all go away. Yet I have confidence that my relationship with the Lord will be the spiritual nest that sustains me. He is the home of my soul, which ultimately is the core of me.
I am also reminded of the song “This World is Not My Home.” We really are just passing through. It’s a reality I am facing as I have lost my mother and brother within 13 months of each other. We truly are not here on earth forever, but our souls are eternal. We demonstrate that in our knee-jerk denial at the death of someone close to us. Philippians 3:20 says, “but our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Knowing Jesus as our personal Savior is what establishes citizenship in our Eternal Home. Citizenship that is not going to be taken from us or become elusive. It’s a reality I can count on and a place to look forward to dwelling in once my body is done on this Earth.
Heaven is not a pretend place that we tell ourselves about to make the death of a loved one easier to endure. Heaven is a reality that a good earthly home echoes of to help us understand that we have a place of eternal belonging, comfort, safety, joy, purpose, and relationship that will not be broken and will not deteriorate over time. When we know the One who has prepared this perfect place of dwelling for the souls who desire to be with Him, we find comfort in the Holy Spirit’s presence, not only for now, but we can rest in the confidence that we will one day be home with Him.