Monday, July 8, 2013

Home

When you get back from vacation, there's always stuff.  The refrigerator needs replenishment.  The laundry is relentless but it's worth it because you are...home.  You know what it's like.  As good as it was to be away, nothing feels quite like home.

We recently returned from a week in Delaware.  Yes, Delaware.  I understand if you're confused.  Who vacations in Delaware?  I get it.  Google, "Wayne's World Delaware." You're in good company.

So why Delaware?

Well, after my grandfather retired, he and his wife bought a small sectional home 25 minutes from Rehoboth Beach in the southeastern part of the state.  My grandmother, who now lives in Spokane, Washington, turned 90 in April and asked the family to take one more trip back east.

Even thought I hadn't been back since 1986, it felt like I never left.  The shop on the boardwalk where you buy saltwater taffy is still there.  The same is true for the pizza place and that spot where you get the fries in the bucket with the vinegar.  I couldn't stand those as a kid.  I can't stop eating them as an adult.  It's as if time was polite enough to pause.

Two days after arriving, my grandmother asked me to take her to the old house.  I remembered it as a mobile home development filled with nice, quiet retirees enjoying their golden years.

Time was not as kind as it had been to the boardwalk. 

The homes still stood but many had aged poorly.  My grandmother's sat empty, a casualty of foreclosure.  The front lawn consisted of weeds and a rusted-out boat trailer.  We walked around the property looking in windows and checking out the backyard.

On impulse, my brother tried a door and it opened.  We went inside, my grandmother on my left arm.  I hope I never forget her reaction.  When she saw the kitchen, it wasn't for long but she literally sobbed.  My wife, standing behind her, described it as a physical response.  Her shoulder slumped and I felt the downward tug on my arm.  Through her tears, I heard her say, "I loved this house."

Why?  What was so great about it?  The floors and walls were so thin you could put your fist through it.  I know because it was clear that someone did.  There were horse flies and because the house was near a series of canals, the smell outside was what my son called, "Yucky."  How could you love a place like this?

The same reason we all love wherever we call home.  Places have a way of housing our memories.  What my grandmother recalled were the friends with whom she shared, "Happy Hour."  She saw in her mind's eye my grandfather's smile when he went crabbing (yes, it's a verb).  They were yet to face the limitations of age while at the same time beyond the responsibilities of work and raising a family.  It was her ideal season of life.

We all have an ideal whether it's rooted in what once was or what we hope will one day be.  It drives our aspirations and is the root of our disappointments.  Every experience is measured against what few of us have ever even said out loud.  Why do this?  Wouldn't it be easier if we never wanted more, never dealt with disappointments?

C.S. Lewis put it well, "If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."

We yearn for yesterday or tomorrow because this world is not our home.  The other world Lewis spoke of is heaven.  It's home because that's the place where our deepest desire is met, the desire for a relationship with God.  Yes, in Christ we have that but as long as we're on earth, it's diluted, having to pass through the strainer of the Fall.

Whether you are aware of this or not, your, "hopes and dreams," are your brain's attempt to quantify what you and I crave.  We want to go home.  What's frustrating is when we can't explain what, "home," is.  It's even worse when we can't find it.  If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about.

The Bible helps.  1 Corinthians 13:12, "Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely (NLT)."

So if heaven is home, what do we do until then, just gut it out?  Not at all.  Home is someplace you can actually visit, albeit imperfectly.  We get a taste of home when we spend time with Christ.  We get a taste when we spend time with His people in genuine fellowship whether that's Sunday morning or Monday night.  We taste what it will be like when we sing and pray and all of that's because of the Spirit who lives inside us, whom Paul described as, "the guarantee of our inheritance (Eph 1:14)."  It won't just happen.  You'll have to choose to do so but it's worth a try.  Go and visit.  You might even find yourself wanting to invite someone else.

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