What is home? A specific geography, a city, a neighbourhood? Perhaps it’s the smell of your grandmother’s cooking invading every room of a place, that makes it home. Is it the culture we are familiar with and part of? I let the question sit in for a moment, while I ponder answers.
It goes deeper than a zip code, and even the aroma of familiarity. Home is where our history is carefully housed. Our personhood is known, our roots contained. Home is where our belongings belong. Is wherever we are welcomed to spend that safe, restful series of moments when we most need them. Home is a familiar, effortless, sense of acceptance. Whatever gives us this, is the closest to home we have.
For me, being a child of divorce at a very early age, the idea was fragmented from the beginning. Soon after I was sent abroad to live and study. It would define my formative years. While it was a blessing no doubt, I was no closer to having a sense of home among various geographies and accents.
I’ve observed others with a more cohesive upbringing for whom home is clearly defined in terms of geography and family. Rooted in clear and coherent memories that thread an entire personal history. For me, this has always been the experience of an outsider looking in. I understand it but am unable to relate to it.
Sharing this as a 20 something, I remember my mentor -at the time in her 40’s- gently mentioning that Jesus did not have a place to lay his head. The Son of God, God made man, did not have a home while he walked the earth. In my heart, I ask why? Part of the answer, I think, is because He already had a home. It’s simplistic and I am sure there is much more to it. I see that it models something for us. Most of us know more physical comforts in this life than Jesus ever did. The simple often taken for granted gift of a permanent address and a bed were things he did not have, here.
The fact that most of us have an address and a bed is a blessing and evidence of God’s grace in our lives. The fact that He didn’t models for us a vision and intention of His time here. It was a trajectory to a final destination. Earth was not His home, but a temporary dwelling to accomplish the Father’s purpose. As Scripture says, He didn’t come to be served but to serve. No Jesus didn’t come to be comfortable, but to be broken for the broken.
So, how did He live out the concept of home? The safety, acceptance, and assurance that home represents, Jesus found in the Father. His utter dependence on God the Father was his home while here. It kept him anchored to the Truth of Who He was and Where his permanent address was; in heaven at the right hand of the Father. This was his source and point of reference, on how to live in the temporary place where he didn’t have a place to lay his head.
He didn’t have a home here, because he came to build a kingdom. A kingdom for which he was the cornerstone. He came to give his life as a ransom for many. Obedience to that purpose, and dependence on his Father to carry it out, is where he rested. That intimacy shared with the Father was the source of his actions while he was on earth. Actions that included washing feet, feeding crowds, healing the sick, confronting the proud, speaking Truth, and forgiving sins. In doing so Jesus was modelling the kind of home he came from and what kind of kingdom he came to build.
Everything changes when you become a believer and follower of Jesus. Everything inside of you that is. So much on the outside remains the same. Life’s hard things, people, and situations may never change. My background is still my background. Becoming a believer didn’t change how my life began and the weight thereof. But it did change me. From within. Deeply. And forever. Including what home, I look for.
For me, the ache of not having is an invitation to wait for the kingdom. It’s an active waiting. I wait for it as I learn to depend on God more than on myself. I anticipate it and feel I am getting small glimpses of it when I share with others joyful moments that feel otherworldly. It is a welcomed blessing in that way. It’s a good hunger to have, that says this is not the main course. The feast is yet to come.
Over the years, so many close friends have shown me with their love, a foretaste of that feast. They have taught me so well by example what it means to wash someone’s feet. They’ve made, quite literally, an eternal difference in my life.
Whether home is a well-defined place of comfort, one lost due to life’s circumstances, or an elusive concept altogether; the offer is the same. Let Him hold you and all your personal history. Learn to rest and lay down your head in the safety of the Father. Let yourself belong to Him. That’s what Jesus did while here. And what he came to do; make a way for us to have our home with Him.