One Saturday in May, I walked with my family through a strawberry field. My little sister rested her head on my shoulder in exasperation as our mom pointed out another patch she wanted us to pick. Our dad quietly followed us, smiling and snapping the occasional photo of all his girls together again.
My family was a few feet down the path when I dropped to my knees and gently twisted the sweet fruit until it rested in my palm. Rain-soaked Alabama earth filled my weak lungs as I closed my eyes and listened to their laughter mingle with birdsong. After months spent away for school and weeks of severe respiratory illness, I was home.
Home looks different for everyone. Not all homes are safe, nor do all bring fond memories. Most (if not all) homes are complex. Some feel they never truly had a home. Yet, as the Lord reminded me through my own hometown visit, every human longs for some semblance of belonging. Regardless of how unique or distorted their methods are for obtaining it, even the most transient and callous among us yearn for connection and comfort.
Are you aware of how this desire manifests itself in your life? What do you consider home, and do you feel calmed or suffocated by this idea?
For the follower of Christ, our understanding of “home” and the decisions we make based on that understanding are crucial and complex. In an interview conducted by Wheaton College president Philip Ryken, author Marilynne Robinson addressed this tension as she speaks on “Many Ways to Live a Good Life”:
“Part of human reality is that they live a life they have chosen in awareness of all the lives they have not chosen. And I think a lot of people find two opposed things extremely attractive and abandon either domesticity on the one hand or rootlessness on the other… In a way, this opposition seems to be a part of human complexity.”
For example, my free-spirited friend who chose to relinquish her career for the joys of being a stay-at-home mother deals with pangs of regret just as much as my unmarried friend who forfeited a family by pursuing her call to the mission field. Both of them love the Lord, made their decisions out of obedience, and fight for contentment in all things, but their hearts know something is still not whole.
The truth is, neither staying nor going will bring the satisfaction we crave. Providing the coziest, loveliest homestead, or traveling to the furthest part of the world still won’t be enough. As C.S. Lewis notes in Mere Christianity, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Our sojourning souls ache, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20, NASB). In other words, our satisfaction now and forever will only be found in Jesus. And though Christ dwells in our hearts through faith now, we still yearn for the day when God will dwell with us in the new heavens and new earth as promised in Revelation 21. Only on that day will we all truly, finally understand home.
For now, we must rest in the knowledge that God weaves every moment of our lives together for his glory and our good. He understands every complexity and meets it with the loving instruction of his Word, so by his power we can walk in wisdom and grace. With hearts knit together in the gospel, the Church will comfort one another and share the gospel until Christ’s return.
No matter what life brings, remember: we’re heading home.