“We’re going home,” Keith told someone of our upcoming visit to his parents’ house in Arkansas, early in our marriage.
Home? Home was where I was, where we lived together, not someplace 1100 miles away.
I suppose I didn’t understand because I didn’t have that sense of home. We moved a few times when I was a child, and then my parents moved more after I married. I never use that phrase “back home” of any place but where I live at the moment. But a lot of people do. I hear them talk about it often, going “back home” to reunions and homecomings, visiting the places they grew up and knew from before they could remember.
But what was it the American author Thomas Wolfe said? “You can’t go home again.” Wolfe died on September 15, 1938. His book of that title was published posthumously on September 28, 1940, and those words have come to mean that you cannot relive childhood memories. Things are constantly changing and you will always be disappointed.
Abraham and Sarah and the other early patriarchs did not believe that.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own. Hebrews 11:13-14.
That phrase “country of their own” is the Greek word for “Fatherland” or “homeland” or “native country.” Those people believed they were headed home in the same sense that Keith talked about going back to the Ozarks. Some question whether the people of the Old Testament believed in life after death. They not only believed they were going to live in that promised country after death, they believed they had come from there—that it was where they belonged.
That may be our biggest problem. We do not understand that we belong in Heaven, that God sent us from there and wants us back, that it is the Home we are longing for, the only place that will satisfy us. We are too happy here, too prosperous in this life, too secure on this earth.
Try asking someone if they want to go to Heaven. “Of course,” they will say. Then ask if they would like to go now and see the difference in their response. It is good that we have attachments here, and a sense of duty to those people. It is not good when we see those attachments as far better than returning to our homeland and our Father and Brother. Paul said, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if to live in the flesh, - if this shall bring fruit from my work, then what I shall choose I know not. But I am in a strait between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better: yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake. Philippians 1:21-24. Paul knew the better choice. Staying here for the Philippians’ sake was a sacrifice to him, a necessary evil.
Heaven isn’t supposed to be like an all-expenses-paid vacation away from home—it’s supposed to be Home—the only Home that matters.
How do you view Heaven? The way you see it may just make the difference in how easy or difficult it is for you to get there.
Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight); 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 Corinthians 5:6-8.