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One of my favorite Christmas songs is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. One variation of this song begins with this line: “I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love even more than I usually do…”. Every time I hear this, my thoughts are instantly transported to my grandparents’ old farmhouse in Wellston, Ohio at Christmastime. I can see the tree in the corner of the living room, and I can smell my grandmother’s baking in her little farmhouse kitchen. It’s like time stands still for a moment. Christmas at Nanny and Ba’s house- some of the most precious childhood memories I have. It makes me feel homesick, not just for that old house, and my grandma’s baking, and my grandpa’s endless teasing, but homesick for a moment in time that felt warm and cozy and safe. Homesick for a feeling. A feeling of “home.”

The topic of “home” has been a recurring theme in my life over the past few months. Where is home? What is home? Is home a place, an idea, or a feeling? What is it?

If you were my son, Jasper, your connection to home might be family. He had to do a little project for school about all the different kinds of homes there are in the world. We brainstormed, and he came up with a long list of all the various types of homes that are possible: wood homes, stone homes, brick homes, glass homes, ice homes, etc.. His list was long. The next part of the project was to talk about his own home. Once he described what he believed his home was made of – brick and wood – he then went on to explain what he loved about his home- what makes it special to him. Interestingly, he didn’t talk about specific features, but rather, it was his family that made his home so special to him. For Jasper, it was family that defined home, more so than wood and brick.

As a missionary, I often find myself wrestling with this idea of “home.” It feels uncertain because of the unstable nature of this kind of life. I try my best to plant roots and dig in deep wherever I am, but there is always this reality – way back in my mind – that all of this is temporary. Even now, as we look ahead to itineration in approximately six months, “home” is already being disrupted by the anticipation of our upcoming transition.

I was listening to a speaker recently unpack this topic of “home” to a group of fellow missionary women. She shared about a time when she was attending a high school graduation in Nairobi, Kenya. The graduation speaker, who was a third culture kid, asked the question, “What is home?” Later, she answered the question by saying, “God is home.”

This really struck me.

God is home.

Brooklyn and I were out for one of our coffee dates, and she opened up to me about some of the things she’s been processing lately. She is a senior in high school and is looking ahead at a lot of big transitions in her life. Like I mentioned earlier, itineration is just around the corner for our family, but even more startling is the reality that Brooklyn’s transition doesn’t end when she leaves South Africa. She will be in an ongoing state of transition as she begins university in August of next year. For her, this feeling of unsettledness is profound. There is so much uncertainty. And she made a comment to me that nowhere feels like home.

South Africa, while it is her current address, doesn’t feel like home to her. She doesn’t feel as connected to it as she did to our home in Portland, Oregon. And yet, Portland doesn’t feel like home either. It is has changed. Everything that made it “home” to her has completely flipped upside-down, and her connection to a place that would seemingly be home to her feels very foreign.

As we were talking ,two things came to my mind: First, I remembered the message I listened to that encouraged us that “God is home,” and second, thankfully we can say that our “family is home.”

Nothing is constant, except God. And while I am grateful that I have a family that is secure, stable, authentic, and a safe place to land, I realize that rooting myself/ourselves in family can’t always meet that need for “home”, but God can. Because God is constant. When we are rooted in him, we are secure. He keeps us and he holds us. He anchors us when life threatens to blow us over. He is faithful.

I don’t think this concept applies only to missionaries and third-culture kids. I think it is universal to all Christ-followers. How often do we look around at the world, or even the city we live in, and feel so very foreign? How often do we wonder where exactly we fit in? And how many times do we struggle to find a place that feels right and whole and “home?” My guess is that we don’t feel these things very often. Maybe you are fortunate enough to be a part of a body of believers that gives you a living picture of safety and security and fulfills that longing for home. Like my family, it is a place of rest and peace and trust. Or maybe the body you have been connected to has been dysfunctional, and it has disappointed you, and you are thinking to yourself, “Is there really such a thing as a healthy church family?” Regardless, I would guess that many of us, whether in healthy or unhealthy environments, feel very foreign in this world. And those feelings are very valid.

Earth is not our home; Heaven is our home. This is not to say we don’t get planted and rooted where we are, but we do so with the awareness that this is not our forever home.

In Hebrews chapter 11, the writer is drawing our attention to those who trusted and lived by faith, waiting and believing in the promise to come. Even as they passed from this earth, they were still living by faith.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16

Are you longing for a better country? Are you reminiscing about a time gone by that felt warm and secure, but doesn’t exist anymore? Do you feel like a stranger here on earth? If yes, then you are in good company. Those who lived by faith and are acknowledged as those who put faith in action in the Scriptures, also felt those same feelings. This broken world, these dysfunctional systems we try so hard to control, are not our home. God is our home.

And our mandate from Christ is to bring as many other people home as we possibly can. Our purpose is not to live so secluded and insulated that our light grows dim. Our purpose isn’t to create better systems or even to make better leaders. As we live as strangers in this world, our responsibility is to bring people to Christ; to bring them home with God. Making disciples who make disciples. Because God’s home is not for a select few, but we know that he longs for all to come and dwell.

God is our home.

I am so grateful for that promise and assurance today. This Thanksgiving more than any other, this truth feels even more comforting to me.

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