After 24 days in Michigan it feels amazing to be home. My own bed. My own shower. My own towels. My own car. My own drawers, closets, and easy chair. It was wonderful to be in Michigan to care for Jan's mom, to visit our sisters, and to watch sunsets over Lake Michigan. But, there's no place like home. (This would be a good place for an "amen!")
Being away from home can be refreshing and exciting. It's fun to see different places, have different experiences, and eat in different restaurants. Travel can be just what the doctor ordered. But after a certain period of time, I find myself longing to get home. I think that is one of the benefits of travel - it makes you long for home. Home is where you feel safe, comfortable, and at ease. You don't have to be up or get ready for anything...you just get to be home.
I've been relishing being home all day today, and then out of the blue it struck me that I'm actually not home yet. Yep, here comes the sermonette! The great theologian Carrie Underwood refers to this as our "Temporary Home." There's a praise song with this lyric - "All I know is that I'm not home yet." The old Gospel song put it this way - "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through." For the Christian, our earthly homes are temporary dwellings. This is not our final home. In many ways, we're just camping here.
My mind flooded with thoughts about what we call our "heavenly home" today. Fresh feelings of being home in Colorado made me ponder some things. First, I thought about the fact that in John 17:24, Jesus prays to His Father and asks that those who God has given Him may be "with Him where He is." That sounds like the final home of each Christian - with Jesus, wherever He is. We normally think heaven. But heaven is such a difficult concept to grasp. Most people have no idea or wrong ideas about what heaven is going to be like. It's not harps and angel wings, I'm pretty sure. But what is our final home going to be like? What will it be like to be "finally home," as the songwriter put it?
I have some thoughts:
1) Being in our heavenly home will feel better than any experience we've every had. I kept saying last night, "It's so good to be home." But in heaven, we will say it in the way God intended when we were created - "It feels so good to be home." It will be as C.S. Lewis puts it, "It feels like the place I was made for." We will be more comfortable, more at ease, safer, and more relaxed than we have ever been before. No fear. No anxiety. No pain. No sickness. No worry. No politics. Our bodies will be glorified, so that will play into it as well. But I still think there will be a visceral human experience when we get to heaven that makes us wonder why anything else could ever have felt like home to us. This is it! I'm finally home.
2) Being in our heavenly home we will be consumed by the presence of Jesus. He prays for it in John 17. Jesus wants us with Him. All of us have experienced rejection of people who don't want us, or don't want us any more. In some cases, that happened to you recently. We navigate relationships cautiously wondering if people are going to turn on us or betray us. Maybe we thought people wanted us...but eventually the truth comes out - they don't. That hurts. But try to wrap your brain around this concept - Jesus wants you with Him. In our final home, we will be with the One who died to save us and who loved us with a love unlike anything we've ever experienced from any other being. I imagine a huge sign on the gate of heaven - WELCOME HOME - WE WANT YOU HERE! Signed by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. That's home!
3) Being in our heavenly home will feel like a gift all the time! One, because it is a gift. Two, because we know that we don't deserve to live like this. Three, because we never have had, nor will we ever have anything better - we will know that! Jan and I have been blessed with our home. She actually thanks God and me nearly every day for making it possible to live in our home. We both feel graced by God to live in such a comfortable and beautiful place. But in heaven, we won't have to dust, vacuum, wash windows, stain decks, paint rooms, scrub bathrooms, do laundry, or mow the lawn. Talk about worry-free living!
4) Being in our heavenly home will make what we did for the Lord here seem worth every effort. Yes, I'm thinking of the hymn, "It Will Be Worth It All When We See Jesus." We will not regret serving God, or giving to God, or witnessing about our faith, or reading the Bible, or praying, or serving others. If anything, we will wish we did more. I imagine waves of emotion when I'm living in heaven when I see someone who came to Christ through our ministry. Or someone whose marriage was restored. Or a missionary who we supported. Home will feel good because we will be rewarded for our deeds...and then, be given the opportunity to lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus.
5) Being in our heavenly home will be a blessing because we will be there with our believing family. I mean our bothers and sisters of faith. All of us who shared a common commitment to faith in Jesus will unite in perfect unity. We'll be changed in a moment, and we will be united for eternity. Our heavenly home will be a place where everyone knows our name. We'll all get along. There will be no tension in relationships. We will relate perfectly as God intended before the fall. None of us knows what that is like. But just the idea of it sounds fantastic. There will be so much joy, we will probably feel like singing. Songs like "Worthy is the Lamb," will echo through the streets when we finally get home.
I admit it. Right now I am very glad to be home in Colorado. But I look forward to my final home. I'm not there yet, but I'm 100% sure that it's going to be inexpressibly better than Colorado.