One's home is like a delicious piece of pie you order in a restaurant on a country road one cozy evening - the best piece of pie you have ever eaten in your life - and can never find again. After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up. ~Lemony Snicket
After making the commitment to becoming full time missionaries to Haiti, we starting looking at our “stuff” and really scrutinizing the “things” in our life in terms of what we feel like will be necessary to make our home feel like “home” in Haiti and what we can leave behind. Not once in this process of answering the call to become missionaries has it hurt or been difficult to think about leaving “things” behind, it has been the people and relationships that the cost of discipleship can require us to say good-bye to that is most painful.
Last week was very “cleansing” for the Lenharts. We spent the week cleaning and organizing every closet, cabinet, and crevice in our house. So throughout the week, we began making piles of what we wanted to donate, trash, and sell in a massive garage sale next spring. I love the sense of accomplishment and peace that comes with feeling organized. But everyone in my family does not share my enthusiasm for organization, especially my daughter Ashlyn. Our first born Drew is a list-making, organization seeking freak like me. Yet our daughter Ashlyn prefers chaos and creativity to schedules and order like her Dad. So when it came time to work on Ashlyn’s room, world war III was on the verge of breaking out. She tends to be a pack rat of sorts… saving every little paper and trinket she has ever owned stuffing them in random drawers and corners. Her closet doors are usually wide open because the contents of the closet can not be contained with mere doors. And she is perfectly content with living in chaos because chaos is “normal” to the creative genius that she is. So asking her to bring some kind organization to her madness was a HUGE and almost impossible task. Add the drama and emotional roller coasters that tend to accompany most 6th grade girls and we had a recipe for disaster and a full blown melt down on our hands. After some heated words and some threats on her part of not joining us in our move to Haiti… we got to the heart of issue. It wasn’t just that I was asking her (or forcing her) to be a little more organized but the thought moving and leaving “home” was becoming more real to her.
Earlier that week, as Jake and I discussed what our plans for the holidays were going to be, we talked about this concept of “home”. For the first 30 years of our life, “home” was Kansas to us. Now after living in Oklahoma the last three years, we feel torn. Where is “home”? Are we going “home” for the holidays? Is “home” where we lived, live, or where we are going to live?
So after taking a step back and time out from our cleaning catastrophe, Ashlyn and I were able to have a heart about what and where “home” really is. We talked about how it’s natural for our hearts to desire a place to call “home”. And discussed how “home” isn’t necessarily a place but an idea or a group of people. And talked about how as Christians, as long as we live on earth, part of us will always be “homesick” and longing for heaven and God’s kingdom. And we wrestled with the idea that we won’t really feel at “home” anywhere in this world.
Hebrews 11:13-16 talks about how people of great faith even struggled with this idea of “home” and it says “all these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”
Elisabeth Elliot has said "If we were given all we wanted here, we would settle for this world rather than the next." I think if we were too comfortable or too settled here on earth we would not long for our heavenly home as we ought. I think in order to keep a heavenly perspective in this life as strangers and exiles on earth… what we love, live for, long for, and the place we will feel completely at “home” is not something we can experience here on earth. But “coming home” something we will truly only experience on the other side of heaven. And if heaven is our home, we will at times feel like refugees and foreigners. But looking at Hebrews 11 and the people commended for their faith, leads me to believe that if this is not “home” then we are in good company.
Jake and I have been studying Abraham and the call God placed on his life to leave his country and his people. In Genesis 23, Abraham has lost his beloved wife Sarah. Having no “home" or land to call his own, Abraham struggled with where to bury his beloved wife. Abraham, and many other saints in the Old Testament, like Jacob and King David, referred to themselves as “sojourners.” The word sojourner is defined as “to live somewhere temporarily, as on a visit; stay for a while.” Right now as I type, I should be packing for our trip to Kansas for Thanksgiving. But I’m not because I hate packing for a trip and living out of suitcases isn’t that much fun either. But it’s a necessary evil for traveling… so is this idea of living as sojourners on earth. It’s not ideal or comfortable in any way but if heaven is our home then we are just living here temporarily. Philippians 3:20 confirms this by telling us that “our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there.” 1 Peter 2:11 urges us “live as aliens and strangers in this world.”
So are you going “home” for the holidays? In the words of one of my favorite song writers, “We are not home yet, keep on looking ahead, let your heart not forget, we are not home yet!”