“Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays.” As I write this, I am on my way back to Georgia after visiting our family in Missouri for Thanksgiving. Ironically, I call both of these places “home”. I remember my mother-in-law getting on to my husband the first time he referred to college as “home”. “This will always be your home,” she said. And it is, yet it isn’t.
People say, “Home is where you hang your hat,” and “Home is where your heart is.” But what makes a place your home? And why do we become so nostalgic about home at the holiday season? I believe God put the concept of home in our hearts to prepare us for our ultimate home: heaven.
Reflections on Home:
1. We all want a place to call home.
Since getting married, I have moved a lot: a minimum of 11 homes and 7 towns in 20 years. From time to time, I reflect on where my home is: if I died now, where would I be buried? (Morbid, but true.) Where will our kids want to come back to after college? Have I put down roots anywhere? At times, I feel like a nomad settling in, collecting memories, packing up, and then moving on to the next place.
God in the Old Testament created for Himself a people in need of a permanent home. From the time he called Abraham to “go to a place…not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8), God’s people were essentially homeless. After hundreds of years and many providential events, God led His people out of Egypt and their wilderness wanderings into the Promised Land. The Israelites were a people who understood longing for home.
2. We should welcome others into our homes.
The idea that the Israelites should obey God and treat strangers with kindness because He led them to this Promised Land is a major theme throughout the Old Testament. Look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:2: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” God prefaces His laws with a reminder of the hospitality He showed the Israelites. In Leviticus 19:33-34 the Bible says, “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” Earlier in the same chapter, we read about the laws of leaving some grain for the poor to glean, the laws that Boaz practiced to save the poor widows, Ruth and Naomi.
Christians owe an even greater debt than the Israelites. In Ephesian 2, Paul describes how Christians were once strangers, separated from God, “having no hope”, until God sent his Son to save us. When we consider all that God has done for us, how can we be selfish with our gifts? “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). This includes sharing our most valuable earthly possessions God has given us: our homes. When was the last time you invited someone into your home to share your time, fellowship or a meal? More importantly, when was the last time you had someone in your home to share your greatest gift: the way to salvation?
3. We should look for our forever home.
Oh, HGTV, how you have spoiled us by normalizing unrealistic expectations for our homes. All we want is a spa-like master bath, a hotel chic master bedroom, a bedroom for each child with one or two to spare, home offices, home media rooms, gourmet kitchens, magazine cover living rooms, and open floor plans with great sight lines from room to room. And we deserve it because our families need retreats from the world. Besides, we can justify the expense when this is our “forever home”. I mean, if I am going to live here until my kids are grown and gone, then I need to have everything exactly how I want it regardless of the cost. Otherwise, I might be unsatisfied or discontented.
Yet Scripture tells us to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 2:20-21). How easy it is to be distracted from our true goals in this life! As Christians, we already have the perfect forever home waiting for us in heaven (1 John 2:17, Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:4). God wrote it on our hearts. “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).
Why are we so enamored with the concept of “home”? Why do I drive 12+ hours to southeast Missouri multiple times of year? Why did the Israelites cling to the promise of a “land flowing with milk and honey” through slavery, and hardships and wandering? I believe it is as God intended. He shows us His abundant hospitality to motivate us to be hospitable to others so that, ultimately, we all might have an eternal home with Him in heaven. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.And you know the way where I am going.”