There was something about the air as soon as I stepped out of the airport terminal. Something familiar. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply. Maybe it was the humidity. Maybe it was the smell of cut grass and boxelder trees. Or just maybe it smelled like….home. It definitely wasn’t the smell of the dry desert I had left a few hours prior, but the sweet summer scent of my childhood home: Nebraska.
It wasn’t merely the smells that made it seem like home. As I sped down the interstate, water towers and grain solos rose high above the landscape, marking the presence of yet another small community in the middle of seemingly nowhere. Endless rows of corn waved in the always-present Nebraska winds. Mom and pop businesses lined the streets of small town USA. It was a place where everything seemed different, yet nothing had changed. I grew up in the idyllic Midwestern small town. The kind of town where you could see into everyone’s backyard, play outdoors until the streetlights came on and ride your bike across town in ten minutes flat.
As I drove past my childhood home, I noticed a “for sale” sign in the yard. And as luck would have it (or maybe it was divine timing), a realtor classmate on mind just happened to be showing the home to prospective buyers the next day. Graciously, her clients agreed to let us crash their tour and walk though the home while they were there. And although the flooring had been changed, the kitchen remodeled, and each room painted a different color, there were so many things that hadn’t changed. The wood framing around each door. The same bathroom fixtures. The planter that containing hanging vines. But perhaps, most importantly, the pencil markings in the laundry room, noting my siblings’ and my height through the years. It was unmistakably a feeling of “home”, even though I knew I didn’t really belong there. The home wasn’t really mine and hadn’t been for 20 years.
And the next day as I left my childhood hometown of 7700 to fly back to my current hometown of 4.2 million, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Am I leaving home? Or am I going home? Where is my home, really?” Yes, a home is the shelter in which one resides, but if it’s also the place where our “affections are centered” (thanks, dictionary.com), then home is so much more than just four walls. And if my affections are (and should be) centered around Christ Jesus, then that must mean my home is where He is.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes that “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord”. And in Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I love the commentary by John Gill based on this verse:
“They [believers] seek one [a city] to come, which is permanent and durable; a city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God, as yet they are not in it, though fellow citizens of the saints, and of the household of God; they are pilgrims, strangers, and sojourners on earth, but are seeking a better country, an heavenly one, and God has prepared for them a city, they have a right unto it through the grace of God, and righteousness of Christ…..their temporary residence is below; their thoughts are often employed about it; their affections are set upon it, their hearts are where their treasure is, the desires of their souls are towards it, and they are seeking things above, and long to be in their own city, and Father’s house, where Christ is; and to be at home with him, and for ever with him.”
Strangely enough, the longer I am on this earth, the less it feels like home. And consequently, the more I realize that this place isn’t really home, well, then everything is is merely temporary. I am simply passing through on my way to an eternal glory in heaven, which God already is preparing for me.
Dear friends, I am nearing the two-year mark of losing my son. And so this concept – rather, this TRUTH of earth being my temporary home is what keeps me going and makes my journey of grief bearable. Every day I put my feet on the floor and turn off the alarm clock is one day closer to being reunited with the saints who have gone before. But even more important, more valued and more desired than that is being in the presence of my Savior.
On my saddest days, where I miss my son so much, I remind myself this is temporary. And on days filled with joy and good times, I know that that too, is temporary and cannot compare to the eternal joy that’s to come. On days when I work long hours, days when I have an endless list of things to do, days where the pain of those I love is deep…I know it is all temporary. God knew our hearts would be burdened with so many trials on this side of heaven. But in His great love for us, He sent His Son to bear the ultimate trial so that our home would be with Him in heaven. Our home. A home we don’t have to clean, maintain, or ever leave. A home we had no right to, save for the blood of Jesus Christ.
And to that, I say…..”SOLD!”