I am a homeless person, of sorts. Not in the sense that I don’t have a roof over my head or people who love me. I’m homeless in the sense that while I’ve called numerous places on this planet “home,” none are places I go back to as one would go “back home.” By the time I was forty, I had called five very different geographic locations “home,” and the place I live now has never truly felt like home.
There are times this bothers me, though mostly I’ve accepted this as my normal. Still, I think there is a part in each of us that longs for a place to call home.
So when I was recently listening to the audio version of Brennan Manning’s classic, The Ragamuffin Gospel, these words especially stood out to me:
Jesus says simply, “Remain in me, as I in you” (John 15:4). Home is not a heavenly mansion in the afterlife but a safe place right in the midst of our anxious world. “Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make a home in him” (John 14:23).
Home is that sacred space—external or internal—where we don’t have to be afraid; where we are confident of hospitality and love.
To those of us in flight, who are afraid to turn around lest we run into ourselves, Jesus says, You have a home. I am your home. Claim me as your home. You will find it to be the intimate place where I have found my home. It is right where you are, in your innermost being. In your heart.Brennan Manning
These words reminded me of a friend of mine who had raised her children on the mission field in not just one country, but several. It had worried her at one point that she and her husband weren’t giving their children roots in a community they could always go back to and call home.
One day as she was agonizing over this, God gave her the following Scripture:
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.Psalm 90:1 NIV
She realized that there was indeed a Home she could give to her children, and that was the Lord. If she would teach them to “dwell in the shelter of the Most High” and “rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1), they would have a Home in Him wherever they were.
It’s not just missionary kids who benefit from learning to make God their dwelling place. It is every single one of us. Earthly “home” will never satisfy our longing for complete love and acceptance. Yes, we have fleeting moments in certain places and with certain loved ones that give us a taste of the satisfaction we long for. But it never lasts forever. Our jobs move us across the country. Our children grow up and move out. Our parents and grandparents pass away. Our friends go to college or the mission field or chase their dreams on the other side of the world. If we base our well-being on any or several of these, we are doomed to a continual sense of loss and loneliness.
We humans tend to look for earthly, tangible comforts. When we long for a place we can call “home,” we think of a geographical location, a community of people we know well, a house that we grew up in, and a family who loves and accepts us just as we are.
But we live in a fallen world. The small town where we grew up becomes an unrecognizable city. Our relatives and childhood friends scatter across the globe. Our family becomes disconnected, and each goes their own way. The town/neighborhood/church where we now live doesn’t seem to have a place for us. And we are inevitably left feeling alone, displaced, and homeless.
Jesus knew that we would often feel displaced in this world. Especially as His followers, He knew that others would sometimes misunderstand our values and allegiances and we would often feel like misfits. And sometimes, those who most misunderstand or judge us are those who call themselves Christians but are following a religion, not Jesus.
As He was preparing to leave this world in His earthly body, Jesus spoke these words to His disciples:
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you…. we will come to them and make our home with them.John 14:16-18, 20, 23b
Jesus’ disciples treasured His physical presence with them. But He had to go away in that physical form so that He could return as a Spirit that would live within each one of them, no matter where they were. This includes you and me and all who put our faith in Jesus.
I love how Jesus worded this. He said that “we” (meaning the Father, Himself, and the Holy Spirit) would make their home with us and the Trinity becomes our Forever Family. This means we are never ever alone and that we are always and forever at Home.
A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely.Psalm 68:5-6a NASB