Over the course of my 51 years, I have lived in many different homes and slept on countless guest beds and couches. In Papua New Guinea, we had a village home, and our mission base home. And then there were four children’s homes I rotated between all my school days. Home leave was spent with relatives in upstate New York and Kansas. After leaving my childhood home (there it is again—this time equated with my country of birth), I stayed in two dorm rooms and and two apartments while at Baylor University. Then three more dorm rooms while at Columbia International University. And I’m not even counting all the homes I stayed in over the summers with sisters, brothers and friends (I’m fondly remembering one summer in Rochester, NY).
When Mark and I first married, we rented a cute southern cottage in Columbia, SC. Dear friends and a former employee gave us their basement apartment in Denver, PA as we prepared to leave for the mission field and again while on home leave. In Indonesia, we stayed in four different homes. In Ephrata, two. Only the last place did we actually purchase and settle in—for 8 years! Over the years, we have also spent many nights at my in-law’s home. And now, here we are again, hopping from home to home, house-sitting, staying in guest rooms—a true sign of our missionary lifestyle!
My father, himself a missionary, always said, “Home is where I lay my head”. Is that it? Is that all it is? What is a home? What does it represent? For me, a home is where I can truly be secure1; be safe; be refreshed2; relax; be myself, honestly and vulnerably; experience and create beauty (food, garden, decor); have shelter from the natural elements and from intruders; have comfort; be comfortable; entertain others and experience and be the family of God; and be satisfied (intimately, physically).
But if I am honest, home is also where I can be selfish; take care of “me;” set my own time schedule; reduce interruption; indulge in mindless entertainment as I wish; drink and eat whatever I want; be lazy if I want to; be undisciplined; do nothing; feed my bad habits; have my own space.
So we return to the original question. What is a home? Once again, I turn to Scripture for my answers. God tells me what a true home is…
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations (Psalm 90:1).
Surely/only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place (Psalm 23:6).
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).
You are my shelter, a strong tower that protects me from the enemy. I will be a permanent guest in your home; I will find shelter in the protection of your wings (Psalm 61:3-4).
So this means that God is my home, my dwelling place. The one who would spend thousands of years to prepare a place for me in heaven, will take a few weeks or months to prepare a place for me on earth. A nice home in a nice neighborhood seems attractive to me, desirable for peace and comfort and security. But in reality, God is my home. He is the one that gives that sense of peace and comfort and security. He knows my need and will provide. His presence and being aware of it, is my dwelling place and my firm foundation. So each day, I want to sit in his presence, love him and let him take my by the hand and show me what I am to do that day. How I am to serve others and to be his hands and feet. To encourage and be the presence of Jesus wherever I go.
You open your hand, and fill every living thing with the food they desire. The Lord is near all who cry out to him, all who cry out to him sincerely. He satisfies the desire of his loyal followers; he hears their cry for help and delivers them.Psalms 145:16, 18–19
Lord, I cry out sincerely and express my desire for a home, a house of our own. A place to further the work of developing intimacy and self care so that we can more effectively minister to others. A place to be at rest. Yet, I am learning that true rest and care is found in your presence and your presence is everywhere, anywhere, in me. So ultimately, I can be at rest. Teach me to not separate what I do in my home from you. Jehovah Jireh, help me remember that you have already met my basic needs. I am thankful and want to live in a spirit of gratefulness as I wait for you.
1 (Ruth 1:9, 3:1 “May the Lord enable each of you to find security/rest in the home…”)
2 (Genesis 18:5 “Refresh yourselves since you have passed by your servant’s home.”)