On day one of our vacation – in the midst of our 21 hour cross-country drive- Gabe spoke up out of the blue and said, “Yep, I think I’m homesick now.” We laughed, but I’ve been thinking about that comment again today. You see, only a few days before that I was “feeling home-sick” for family. I had this overwhelming desire to be with my brothers. This was not possible, but a few phone calls later I was better – content once again to be serving in a community far removed from family but connected to them through the blessing of modern technology. As if that wasn’t enough to get me thinking about this concept of being home-sick, I’m considering all of this while driving back to Utah for a family vacation that would include ministering in our former church, having a family reunion and visiting places that still hold such a special place in our lives. As I drove, I was struck by the strangeness of simultaneously leaving home in Indiana and returning home to Utah.
While contemplating these thoughts and feelings – remember, there’s not much else to do while everyone else is asleep and you desperately need to stay awake – the Lord brought to mind another parallel thought. In fact, I now think this could be the real reason the Lord wanted me on board this particular train of thought. Ever the faithful conductor, He wanted me to realize that this sense of homesickness is exactly what every believer ought to possess. Each of us should experience this strange tension between contentment in this life where God has us and longing for our eternal dwelling place in His presence.
I believe this is a concept that the American church has all but lost, but it is a biblical one nonetheless. The apostle Paul said he was torn between the “desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” and the necessity of ministry that he “remain in the body (Phi 1:23-24).” The writer of Hebrews also communicates the same sense of longing through the sharing of Abraham’s pursuit of a “city with foundations whose architect and builder is God” and his descendants who “were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.” Hebrews 13:14 says “we are looking for the city that is to come” and Paul says in 2 Cor 5:2 that we are “longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.”
The question I have, though, is this: are we really? Do most believers really long for heaven? Are we looking for that heavenly home or are we in fact consumed by this earthly one? We certainly have been given this life for a purpose and we should be content here while God leaves us in our earthly home, but I am afraid that far too many believers have lost sight of the fact that this world is not their home. This kingdom is not the one I should be building. The affairs of this world should not consume my time and attention. I should be longing daily and moment by moment for my eternal home and living in light of that longing.
As you consider the brevity of this life and the glory of your eternal home with your wonderful savior, I hope you will join me in quoting Gabe: “Yep – I think I’m homesick now.”