Home, sweet home

3-roofsIt was always dark when we left Grandmom’s house and piled into the car for the long drive home. My sister would fall asleep in the back seat, but I would press my cheek against the cold glass of the side window and watch the passing headlights of the other cars as we left the city and plunged into the midnight black of the Maryland countryside.

Going home put me at ease. I loved visiting my grandparents, but I never felt at home there. Loved, yes. Welcomed, yes. But not at home.

After the long drive I would stumble sleepily into our house and smell the familiar scent of lemon oil furniture polish and hear the shushing my feet made on the hall carpet. On the desk in my bedroom were the pennies to be sorted into my coin collection, just where I’d left them.

Safe and sound, I’d change into my pajamas, crawl under the covers and drift off to sleep before my mother had time to come kiss me goodnight.

I like going home. I’ve been gone from my home for five weeks now; on Monday I’ll board a jet and start the long journey back home. I can’t wait.

Like most people, I don’t think I really grasp just how good I have it. Going home isn’t always a cause for celebration. I can remember times when Mom brought us home in a cloud of fear over what my father’s mood might be like when we got there. As a single adult, going home from work to an empty apartment was never much fun.

For hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees, home is a dusty tent in Chad. For too many single mothers, home is a shelter for abused women, or a parent’s spare bedroom, or a bed at the Gospel Rescue Mission.

Once he began his public ministry, Jesus had no home of his own. He and his disciples relied on the kindness of others for shelter and food as they traveled the length and breadth of Israel.

As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow You wherever You go.”
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay His head.” — Luke 9:57-58, NLT

Americans consider owning a home one of the cornerstones of the “American Dream.” I wonder what God thinks? Jesus was homeless, so shouldn’t we Christians follow his lead?

Not necessarily. Jesus never criticized others for owning homes. He did encourage generosity in all things, which includes a willingness to shelter those who need help under our roof.

It’s important to remember that Jesus neither married nor had children to care for. (Dan Brown writes fiction, remember?) As a traveling teacher with little time and lots of ground to cover, a home would have been a liability. He would have had to go home every weekend to mow the grass, just to keep the homeowners’ association off his back.

“Sorry, friend, I’d love to heal your leprosy, but the hydrangeas need pruning.” The last thing Jesus needed was house.

And anyway, the Scriptures make a very important point about home: that heavily-mortgaged, environmentally-controlled McMansion is not your real home at all. Jesus came to tell us about a much better home, where termites don’t chew, pipes don’t burst, and the neighbors don’t rebuild engines in the front yard.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. — Hebrews 13:14, NLT

There is more than enough room in My Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am. — John 14:2-3, NLT (Jesus speaking)

Going home is great thing. Having a home to go to is not something to be taken for granted. But I think we Christians ought to practice holding on to our homes somewhat lightly.

In fact, it would do most of us good to become homeless for a time. Maybe find an opportunity to do God’s work in another state or country. Maybe volunteer some time at a shelter or a hospice.

By emulating Jesus’ homelessness, we might come away with a different outlook on what God is calling us to be. Sleeping on a bad bed, eating strange food, getting away from the constant flood of TV and phone calls may be just what we need to get in touch with our elemental homelessness. Like Jesus, we are wandering and waiting for that permanent home in the house of our Father God.

My bed’s too short. My wooden chair is hard. My shower is weak and the soap doesn’t lather. The wind sneaks through the window panes and the water is unhealthy.

But really, I shouldn’t complain; this world is not my home.

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  1. You write:

    “He would have been home every weekend to mow the grass, just to keep the homeowners’ association happy….

    Jesus came to tell us about a much better home, where…the neighbors don’t rebuild engines in the front yard.”

    An activity which the Homeowners’ Association just LOVES.

    Seriously, the English word “parish” comes a Greek word used very early in the history of the Church. Most literally, this word refers to an enclave, a ghetto if you will, of resident aliens. Indeed, this theme of faithful homelessness goes back to Abraham and runs throughout the entire Bible: the people of God are always “strangers in a strange land” whose home is elsewhere.

  2. This is very touching Charlie – I mean in a real way, not just a sentimental one. I have always considwered myself homeless in my spiritual walk – not that I dont have a roof over my head, but I’m also seeking a City to come. And along the way perhaps bringing others into the shelter of the building made without human hands.

  3. Thanks. This is the hope that makes life worth living. Well said.

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