Friday, January 31, 2014

Really Home

          For the past eight months, my family has made the parsonage of Bethel Baptist Church our home.  At the beginning of June, after multiple trips and much exhausting labor, and with the help of family and friends, we uprooted our family and moved from the central Virginia town of Scottsville, to Scottsburg, in southside Virginia.  Since then, my wife has been decorating and redecorating, moving furniture from one room to another, and constantly trying to make our house into a home.  It takes a while before the curtains and pictures are hung, everything’s in the right spot, and your place starts to be YOUR place.  We’re finally settling in, and loving it here!  But no matter how perfect everything gets around this place, the question remains—is this really home?
            As I write this, my younger daughter is visiting friends near Scottsville for the weekend.  Looking at her Facebook profile, I can see that she has just posted a picture of herself with her friends, along with the status update, “I feel like I’m home again.”  So for her, even though we live in Scottsburg, Scottsville and the surrounding area is home.  And that makes sense.  We lived there longer than we’ve lived anywhere.  She can say she grew up there.  But even so, I have to ask, is that really home?
            A few weeks ago, I had some vacation time so I took a Sunday off and paid a visit to the church where I grew up.  Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Beaverdam, Virginia (Scotchtown Road, by the way) seemed so familiar to me!  Old faces and people that I hadn’t seen in years welcomed me and made me feel comfortable.  It was great remembering old times and catching up with old friends.  My parents don’t live in that area anymore, so there hasn’t been a lot of reason to visit that area—but driving by the old house and showing my kids my old stomping grounds prompted a feeling of nostalgia for home.  Still, despite all the old memories and sense of belonging, I have to ask, is that really home?
            Hebrews 13.14 NLT says, “For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come.” God’s Word reminds us that we are not truly of this world, that “we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives (Philippians 3.20 NLT).”  God doesn’t want us to get too comfortable in this skin, because it’s only our temporary dwelling.  1 Peter 2.11 NLT says, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”  This world has a lot to offer, but as welcoming as it is, we need to remember that it’s not where we belongIn fact, many of the things that the world offers will destroy your true home if you let it.  Our true place is with God.  Our true priority is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Our true loyalty is Christ. 
             I hope that you have someplace where you feel comfortable, where the people know you and love you.  I hope that you have somewhere to rest and be at peace.  But I hope in the end, that you remember that wherever the Spirit of God is, that is home.  Home is a place that you take with you, that you can never leave behind, because, as the psalmist says:  “I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me (Psalm 139.7-10 NLT).”  This is home—to be with God.  And wherever God is (which is everywhere), you are home.

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