Whenever Keith talks about Arkansas, he says, “Back home.” It used to bother me a little. Home should be where I am, shouldn’t it? Then I realized that I could never have the feelings of a place that he did. I never lived in just one place as a child, and the place I lived longest is not the place I go to when I visit my parents. They left that place a year after I married and have lived in nearly half a dozen places since.
It is ironic that one of my sons lives there now, the place I would have called home, but when I go visit him, it has been so long since it was home, and it has changed so much, that I never even think of it that way any more. The longest I have ever lived in any one place is the place I live now, and as Keith and I head into our senior years, I can foresee a time, though I hope not too soon, when we will have to leave it. Even as small a plot as five acres takes a lot of labor, and it is a long way from the folks we count on to care for us when we become too old and disabled to take care of it and ourselves.
Christians should be careful about those feelings of “home.” Home should never be about a place, but about people, and about Truth. I have seen churches divide over doctrines, divisions that were necessary. Yet people who should have known better stayed—they were converted to a place, a building, not to the Lord.
And Christians in our society have another problem—one that the poverty stricken brethren in places like Nicaragua and Zimbabwe never have to deal with—we have become entirely too comfortable. We are so “at home” in our rich lives that we don’t want to give them up. Persecution, even simply the ridicule and criticism of others, is too much to bear. There is always a good reason not to speak up when sin becomes accepted, and not to behave differently. Even if there is no persecution, we have a problem singing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” This is home and we want to stay as long as possible.
We must make ourselves see beyond the here and now. We must force ourselves to realize that where and how we are living today is not our goal. Eternity is difficult enough to comprehend without focusing on what is right in front of us as if it were the only thing that counted. Here is the truth of the matter: compared to Eternity our lives are not even a drop of water in the entire ocean.
Christians have the promise that one day we will never again be homesick. Heaven is the home we have all been looking for, the place we will live forever. We will never have to leave. We will never sit pining and wishing for the good old days. The “dreams of glory” Thomas Wolfe spoke of will be there and then. But perhaps in Eternity “then” will no longer have a meaning. It will be Now—a capital letter Now that never ends.
Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord, 2 Cor 5:6,8.