Home. The place where we can be ourselves, where we can be safe, where we can be loved. Whether or not we are home; we know what home feels like, and in its purest form, we long for it. Even if in all our years we have yet to discover this residency of safety and peace, we know it’s out there. No one had to tell us it existed. No one ever commissioned us to travel far and wide in search of home. And yet in the deepest crevices and chambers of our hearts, we all hear it calling to us. Something inside of every human being is searching for this serene yet elusive space that goes by the name of ‘home’.
For the first 12 years of my life, I yearned for home. Don’t get me wrong; I had a roof over my head and a family to call my own. But it wasn’t home. My family loved each other deeply, but we were also plagued with our own pain and damaged by our own dysfunctions. My father battled alcoholism and my mom and dad fought constantly, which left my sister and me, more often than not, feeling lost and confused. I had a family and a house, but as a child, I had yet to see our house transform into a home.
It wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t always rainbows and puppy dogs, but it was my life, and I was learning how to make something of it. For the most part, I had grown accustomed to how things were. It wasn’t all that bad.
But it wasn’t home.
For 12 years, I longed for home. For 12 years, I dreamt of it. For 12 years, I searched in every school assignment and every recess conversation and every bike ride and every family dinner for a map that we would lead me to this hidden treasure. For 12 years, I wondered if home was as a much a myth as Arabian Nights or The Brothers’ Grimm Fairy Tales I spent hours upon hours reading. For 12 years, I hoped and prayed that someday my heart would find home. Either that or that the longing for home would stop taunting me, and just fade away. But it never did.
So imagine my surprise when one summer night in a stuffy old room with an acoustic guitar, a group of school kids and an old screen projector, Home found me.
I was attending a summer kids camp, and the evening chapel session had begun. A couple camp counselors were leading us in worship songs, and I was having a hard time figuring out why everyone in the room was so into it. For one, the singers up there weren’t all that great. And they definitely were not cool. The lyrics didn’t make much sense to me; in fact, half of them were downright confusing. Why are we talking about blood? Where’s this altar we are all talking about kneeling at? And why in the world are mountains bowing down and seas roaring?
And that’s when it happened. I suddenly became aware of the Presence of God in the room, and it all made sense to me. The people weren’t singing, clapping, lifting their hands and kneeling as some sort of strange church camp ritual or because the camp counselors’ performance was all that riveting. They were singing to God. They were clapping to God. They were lifting their hands towards God. They were kneeling before God. He was in the room, and even more mind-boggling was that it seemed as if He had intentionally made His way through the crowd to get straight to me.
It’s hard to put into words, but in an instant I was home. All this time I was searching for a place, and in that moment I realized my home was never a place; it was a person. And not just any person. My Home was Jesus.
I felt the Presence of God, and it was Home. It was safe and strong, and I knew love in its entirety for the first time. I met Home. Home had found me and He had a name. His name was Jesus.
I had spent my entire short 12 years of living unsure of whether or not I was actually loveable. I didn’t feel very special; if anything I felt overlooked and abandoned. I felt alone in this big, BIG world; and even though the brochure promised a grand adventure of love and happiness, for one reason or another I just kept missing the tour.
I always thought that if I ever found home that it would be because I figured out how to get there. Home would be the prize after I had proven myself or became something special or won over someone’s love or through blood, sweat, and tears made a home all on my own. I would find the map; I would pave the way; I would claim my plot of land and build upon it.
It never occurred to me that Home would come knocking on my door. Home found me! Jesus sought me out! He gave His love and affection to me on the cross not because I had become someone worthy of His love or had done anything spectacular to turn His attention towards me. He gave me His love and affection simply because He loves me. He invited me to follow Him and be a part of the great story He is writing in this world for no other reason than He wants me around. He doesn’t just love me because He has to; He’s God and even at 12 years old I understood that God can do whatever He wants… because, well, He’s God. He loves me because He wants to.
I didn’t find Home; Home found me.
Over twenty years have passed since that night, and the sheer thought of what Jesus has done for me still brings me to my knees. Here I am, typing on my laptop that Jesus is my Home, and tears roll down my cheeks. I am still so genuinely shocked that Jesus chose me. It baffles me and humbles me and amazes me. I am so easily and repeatedly overwhelmed by the love of God. If it weren’t for Jesus, if it weren’t for the Presence of God at that camp all those years ago, if it weren’t for His invitation to come Home; I would still be wandering this world orphaned in spirit, weary in soul and homeless at heart.
But I’m not. I’m alive! I’m safe in the face of whatever storms rage around me. I am strong in spite of my own weakness. I am loved regardless of my successes and failures. I’m at Home. For all eternity, from this life into the next, I’m at home, forever at home in Jesus.
This world certainly offers its fair share of promises regarding home. It’s always selling something, and its number one sales strategy is discontentment. “Bigger, better, more” is the motto of our day. It ever so slyly whispers to the longing places of our soul that there is a better home out there, one that will bring you instant gratification, pleasure and esteem. The world specializes in advertising spacious living quarters that will make you feel great, look good, and make you the envy of every neighbor on the street. The homes up for sale come in many different models with names like Relationship Status or Career Advancement or Money or Fame or Applause or Excessive Partying or Sex Appeal or Instant Pleasure or Popularity or Power or Political Gain.
Word to the wise: don’t buy. Don’t trade in what you have in Jesus for a prison disguised as a palace. Don’t let the exterior fool you. That house being offered to you at a great deal may come with all the bells and whistles, but it’s still a trap. A prison is still a prison, regardless of the impressive exterior, the perfect view, and the to-be-envied zip code.
Don’t fall for all the false advertising. Jesus is Home; everything else is a confining counterfeit.
Dear reader, I hope and pray you never get lost in this life. But you might, and that’s okay. We can all get lost every now and again. But here’s the great thing about Home: once you’ve met Him, you will always know the way back to Him. Home is closer than you think; the Kingdom of God is within you. Your journey back to Jesus is never one of defeat or shame or humiliation or regret. It’s not a long, winding, and harsh road back consisting of penance and labor. Home is as near to you as your simple willingness to ask Jesus to lead you; to call on the Spirit of God to speak to you. As soon as you turn to Jesus, I promise you, friend, you will find yourself extravagantly embraced in the arms of grace.
As this year comes to a close, I am deeply grateful for so many things. There are so many joys in this life, and so many reasons to celebrate. But nothing in this world compares to simply knowing Jesus. I could have all the riches of this world, and still it would never satisfy like my Savior. And everything in this world could be taken from me, and I would still be the wealthiest of women simply because I have Jesus.
My heart has found its Home because Home has found me. And more than anything in this life, I pray you too find Home. I pray you abide in Jesus, allow His Spirit to lead you, and let His Word frame your life. Whatever this life may bring, may you always be at Home.
“I’m in the very presence of God—
Oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.
God, I’m telling the world what you do!”
-Psalm 73:28 MSG