“Welcome home” are such sweet words.
As my husband and I have circulated in our new town, people often ask us, “Where are you from?” That’s a tough question. We lived in Illinois for ten years, but I really don’t want to say I’m from Illinois because I’m not. But where are we from? I’ve fine-tuned my answer to say, “Most recently, we’ve moved from Illinois, but I grew up in Tucson, so I’ve come home.” Their response delights me. “Welcome home.”
I’ve heard those sweet words from both strangers and family.
Each time, the words feel like someone has put a cool glass of Arizona sun tea, unsweetened of course, in my hands. “Welcome home.”
Now don’t get me wrong. Moving back to Tucson is not all roses without the thorns. The Southwest desert can be a harsh environment. We do weird things like shake out our shoes in the morning in case a scorpion has creeped in, and constantly look down at our feet on dirt trails or isolated roads to avoid intercepting a rattlesnake. Water bottles, hats, sunglasses, and suntan lotion are part our daily garb. We live with the fallout of the immigration issues (higher auto insurance because of increased car theft, for example), threat of wildfires, and a manana mentality produced by hot afternoons that force everyone to take a break and slow down.
It’s still home.
The Arizona Southwest is woven into who I am. Both my husband and I are surprised by how quickly I’ve acclimated to the way of living I call home, like opening windows at night, putting on my sunglasses, knowing the best route to take around incessant median strips that make you plan a series of right turns en route to the bank or grocery store, and going for walks first thing in the morning. I’m reveling in the familiar mountain vistas, desert scenery, and national parks less than a half hour from my doorstep, and more tamales and burritos than is safe for any diabetic.
Best of all, my family is here. The people who are like me. People that I can talk freely with, with whom I can share the same memories and perspectives, without feeling like I have to constantly be careful with what I say or how I say it. They know me and understand me. Yes, differences still exist because the decades away from home have sculpted and changed me. But more is the same than different. It’s so good to be home.
Where is home?
“It must be nice,” some of you might say. “Where is home?” My own daughters have trouble answering that question. Our daughters were two years old and two months old when we moved from Ohio to Colorado, and we moved again two years later to rural Kansas. Our moves have made our family strong and close, but too many families are fragmented because they don’t share the same values and life perspectives. The concept of home becomes as ideal and abstract as the wavy lines of a Monet painting.
Heaven is what God intends Home to be.
No matter how deep or shallow your roots are in any particular place on this earth, you do have a place you can call home. Here, we call it Heaven. And heaven will be a homecoming, not an unknown destination.
In the beginning, God planted a home for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden where they daily walked and talked directly with him. God’s original plan for people was quite different than the way things turned out. God intended life to be eternal and intimately intertwined with Himself. He meant life to be perfect: perfectly peaceful and perfectly forever, unmarred by misunderstandings or selfishness. Adam and Eve’s disobedience introduced death and corrosion to the beautiful world God had created, thus driving them away from this pristine eternity.
Yet a sense of the eternal and a desire for divine intimacy is still hard-wired into each of us because God designed us to be that way. Our discontent with the things of this earth are actually an activated honing system, pointing us toward what God wants us to have, a perfect, permanent, unwavering, secure sense of home.
Home is the place where we feel like we most belong.
That’s what makes Heaven the perfect homestead. Nowhere else will we ever feel quite at home like we will when we reach Heaven. God invites you to buy into what He has planned for you. When you take that final step over the threshold of earth to eternity, the hosts of heaven will meet you with hugs and heartfelt words, “Welcome home.”
So, whenever you feel exasperated with life, dismayed with world events, or put out with particular people, remember this. Those feelings are symptoms of something deeper: you are just homesick. You are longing to go back home. Your spirit cries out to revert to what God originally wanted for you: a place with him forever. And God has the biggest, bestest homecoming planned, a feast that will out-rival any family reunion potluck. A time and place where God will restore everyone who has claimed his name to what He intended them to be.
They’ll all tell you and each other, “Welcome home.”
It will feel so good to be back where you belong.
Let us hear from you: Where on this earth do you feel most at home?