Where is Home?
Sometimes simply belonging to each other is enough. What matters most is not the struggle but where we find our peace. Home is where we belong and where we feel safe.
Where is home? Is it a physical location? A place where the post office delivers our mail? A place where we keep our clothes, where we return at the end of a workday or a school day? Or is home much more than that?
Jennifer Worth was a midwife who spent her life caring for pregnant women. Delivering their babies was only part of what she did; she also counseled them before and after and helped them along their way through life. She wrote several books chronicling her life and experiences under the title, Call the Midwife.1
Here is how she described a home:
So where in the end do we belong? In the eyes of another, where we see ourselves reflected, arm in arm with those whose faces echo ours and whose blood we share? Or is it in the heart of the family we create, where we are safest and best known and never lonely?
Perhaps we belong where love can bloom when we give it room to put down roots and space in which to thrive. Seeds fly in upon the wind and settle where they will. We all belong somewhere. If we are not nurtured where we should be, we must find a choice to make, a place to go, a harbor where the storm is held at bay.
Sometimes simply belonging to each other is enough. What matters most is not the struggle but where we find our peace. Home is where we belong and where we feel safe. Not surprisingly, home is where our real family is.
Robert Frost writes, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”2 And, like Jennifer Worth, he got that right. But while the ideal of a family starts with common genes, there are times when that commonality is not enough.
Home is where we belong and where we feel safe.
A person must feel that they belong, and if those with whom they share ancestors treat them like they don’t belong, then they may seek a home and a family elsewhere. Literature is filled with stories of returning home. Young men leave home and venture out into an unfamiliar world in search of elusive fame, fortune, adventure, and love. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail abysmally, but at the end of their journeys, they always return home, either to the home they left behind or to a better home they have created. They will recognize their real home when they feel safe, at peace, and loved.
The story of the Bible is, among other things, the story of returning home. Adam and Eve started their lives in a lovely garden where they were protected and cared for and had the best companionship imaginable—the angels of Almighty God. But a serious mistake led to their banishment from the Garden of Eden into a cruel and unforgiving world where life was an unending struggle to protect and feed themselves, and death was a guaranteed end. But at the same time, the LORD God gave them a wonderful hope that one day they might find their way back to the beautiful garden with its tree of life and divine fellowship.
Throughout the Bible, individuals, as well as whole nations, have sought to find their way back home to the presence of God. In the Old Testament, Jews and believers from other nations have found “home,” first in the altars and offerings to the LORD individually, later in the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and finally in the great temple at Jerusalem.
Others, prophets and wise men, have sought the LORD while in the desert or in the emptiness of mountains, the rest of the world being left behind, and with the voice of God speaking directly to them. Finally, in later days, others have found their true home under the sheltering arms of a Messiah, a Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
While traveling through the land of Canaan, Jacob had a vision one night of angels ascending to and from heaven. At the same time, he received a revelation from God, reaffirming to him the promises of eternal blessings and inheritance in the Land of Promise God had made to Abraham. This led Jacob to name the place “Bethel,” that is, the House of God (Gen 35:14, 15).
In his wanderings, Jacob had found his special home in the promises of God. Moses was a man of God, a leader of his people, and a prophet. In Psalm 90 (often attributed to Moses), he prays: LORD you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations… Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days (v. 1, 14).3
All his life, Moses had lived in alien places like Egypt, or temporary stopovers in a vast wilderness, on a journey that never seemed to end. At the age of 120, he finally died after he glimpsed in the distance the long-sought Promised Land. But that brief look was enough; Moses had dwelt with God throughout his life and finally had seen God’s special Land, which would be his eternal dwelling place.
Ruth, a young widow with no children, left Moab, the land of her birth, but found a new home with her mother-in-law Naomi in Bethlehem. Ruth told her: Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16).
With her new home, she found her share through the promises of her new god, the God of Israel. She also found a redeemer husband, Boaz, with whom she had a child who would become an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 1:5, 16). Her new family gave her all she could ever have imagined in this life and every hope of a more glorious life yet to come in the Kingdom of God.
Our ecclesia should be our home, our family, and our refuge. It should not be a place of judgment, argument, or gossip, but sometimes it is. In a world filled with pain, suffering, and loss, the ecclesia should be a place of comfort and peace—and a place of belonging, of feeling safe, and of enveloping love. Sometimes, however, the ecclesia may fail us. Sometimes, sadly, we may fail the ecclesia.
But we can all try again, over and over, to love one another, just as our Savior has loved us: Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11).
(Austin Leander Ecclesia, TX)
1 Worth, Jennifer, Call the Midwife, Penguin Books, 375 Hudson Street, New York City, NY, 2002.
2 Frost, Robert, The Death of the Hired Man.
3 All Scriptural citations are taken from the New International Version.