Archives for posts with tag: home

One Sunday evening last month, when my husband and I returned home from a weekend trip, we found grass and debris on our front porch, right on the welcome mat.  Strange, we thought, because the pet sitter had been there a few hours before to look in on our cats.  By the end of the next day, it was clear what was going on:  two robins were building a nest in a corner of the transom window above our front door.  It’s a great, if a bit precarious, location, protected from rain and wind but perched in a pretty narrow space.  And every time someone goes in or out the front door, the robins go on high alert to guard their nest, and the human offender, whether resident, visitor, or delivery person, is forced into a hasty retreat.

When I was a very young child, I believed that birds lived in their nests all the time.  For this misperception I blame at least one childhood song, story, or poem that spoke of birds returning to their nests at day’s end.  To me, a bird’s nest was its home.  But as I grew up and learned more about birds, I found that a nest is really a nursery, a birthing room.  Some birds, such as eagles, return to their nests year after year to bring the next generation into the world; others construct a new nest each year late in the winter or early in the spring.

nest

Compared to many of my friends in Iowa, my family has relocated a lot.  Whenever we move into a new house, I resist the urge to make it my own because, so far, I haven’t lived anywhere that I would consider my permanent home.  Every house is just a way station for us.  My husband dreams of retiring back in the southeast, and maybe that will happen.  But for the past nine years, we have felt at home in Iowa.  My daughter teases me a little bit about not getting the pictures onto the walls or painting any of the rooms (except hers) to get rid of the standard Realtor Off-White, but my thoughts are always on resale.  The kitchen will need to be redone, and the walls will all have to be neutralized anyway, so why put a lot of time and money into the décor when it’s all temporary?  Our houses have been more like nests for us, places that have sheltered us while we’ve lived and worked and raised our daughter.  Then we’ve moved on.

Environmentalists like to say, “Tread softly on the earth.”  We shouldn’t be bad tenants, marking up the walls, damaging the appliances, and destroying the furniture.  We should be good caretakers of the planet, not abusers.  As followers of Jesus, we might modify that saying to “Live lightly in the world.”  By that I mean that we should remember that the world is more like a nest for us than a home.  Scripture tells us that although we live IN the world, we should not be OF the world.  This is not our final destination, so we should not get too attached to worldly things.  We can think of the world as our nursery, a place for us to be born and grow and practice living by the example of Jesus.  We can build relationships and love others, show kindness and compassion, and share what we have with other people.  Then, one day, we will fly away from this nest to our real home with Jesus, where we can live out everything we’ve learned.

There’s a lot of talk in the Christian world about legacy.  How should we live our lives?  What will we leave behind?  How do we want to be remembered?  While I agree that we should be thinking about what we do that will outlive us, I’m not sure I agree with the whole legacy thing.  My purpose on earth is to reflect the glory of God, not to try to bring glory to myself.  Should I even be thinking about whether anything I do will keep the memory of me alive?  We frequently don’t know the impact our words and actions have on other people, especially long term.  If we focus too much on how the things we do will build up our legacy, maybe then we focus too little on whether those things glorify God.  If we give up the idea of how, or even whether, the world will remember us and instead consider how God thinks of us, maybe living a life that reflects God’s glory can become simpler.  Liberating, even.  There’s no projecting into the future, only loving and serving in the present.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”  (Jeremiah 29:10-12).

We are promised a future.  But we live only in the present.  It’s not impossible to make a name for ourselves while serving God, but it’s got to be difficult to keep an eye on both goals.  Which is our priority?  I want to start living a life that honors God, even if I am forgotten by this world once I’m gone.  What about you?  Consider whether it is more important when you leave this earth that an eloquent obituary touts your accomplishments or that God smiles at you and says, “Nicely done.  Welcome home.”

I have been pondering the concept of belonging for many years now.  My family and I are missionaries to Senegal, West Africa. We have lived outside the US for a total of 6 years out of the past 10 years. Before we left in 2003, I felt at home and had many friends here.

Since leaving the US, I have struggled with belonging. When I study God’s Word, He reminds me that I belong only to Him and my worrying about living up to others’ expectations is a part of me that He does not require.  We are called to belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 1:6).  All creation is His. Why do I struggle with this?

When I look to Him for comfort and love I feel true contentment. I know that I belong to Him, but my flesh still seeks man’s favor. I want to minister to the Senegalese but know that I do not belong there completely. No after returning to my home country I want all those feelings of not belonging to be erased. After all, this is the land of my birth!!

This time, after being home for six months, I have noticed that I do not want to belong in much of what is the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my country but I feel more alien from it than ever have before.  My family and I are sojourners, not quite fitting into the mold of either country in which we live, the United States or Senegal. This is similar to the Israelites and their sojourn with Moses to the Promised Land. As they were traveling, they complained and asked to return to Egypt. They did not realize that the land God had promised them was overflowing with milk and honey. That cannot be found on this earth.

Sights and sounds in Senegal are different than those in the United States. Five times a day the Muslim call to prayer is heard from different mosques in the town. Street vendors sell their wares while walking among the traffic. This is a way of life for most Senegalese. Our dream is for the Senegalese to realize that all those trappings are man-made and the God has a promised land for each of them.

In Senegal, my skin color has differentiated me from the majority since the beginning. But, I have noticed that they do not look at skin color as much as I look at it. Believers in Senegal are such a small percentage that our common belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior bonds us more than our outward differences separate. That is where I want to truly belong, with a group of Christ believers who work for His Kingdom!

So after all this pondering, I realize that whether I am in Senegal or the United States I will not belong. Only in the company of Christ am I home.

by Jennifer Dalenburg

This holiday season, many families are traveling home….home to family or friends.  Even traveling to favorite vacation spots to just be together alone (quite an oxymoron, I know!).

Traveling home brought me to wonder how many of us have found, upon returning to our hometown or driving through our childhood neighborhood, that the place is just not the same?

Even when driving around the town or city in which you presently live, you probably find areas you may not have been by in a couple months and something entirely different appears before you.   Or maybe a building or house that had been there for years is now gone; or an area that at one time had the newest and nicest buildings has only run-down relics.

While driving through such an area of my hometown, I saw many older homes that had been large mansions at their creation.  The area once contained the best neighborhoods of the town.  In fact, many of the houses were architectural masterpieces, boasting huge columned front porches and castle-like, turret-styled upper windows overlooking massive front lawns.

At one time the yards were filled with lush flower gardens; some were held in place with rock retaining walls.  Now weeds filled the raised beds, and stones spilled onto parts of the lawns or sidewalks.

Some of the structures had even been condemned.  They had long passed the point where remodeling or reconstruction could save them.

That drive sparked the thought of how often people’s lives are like those homes.  In our attempt to grasp what we distortedly view as important, we focus on the wrong things.  When we allow ourselves to be caught up exclusively in the seemingly urgent and pressing needs of erecting homes and businesses, we find the only rewards we have are short-lived.

Within simply a few years, buildings have need of repair and often extensive remodeling may be desired.  Constant work goes into keeping our earthly homes in a safe, esthetically pleasing condition.  If we are not careful, this effort can leave us with little time to work on the things pertaining to our eternal home.

As you gather with loved ones, consider the fleeting nature of our homes on earth.  They provide shelter, warmth, a feeling of love, and a tangible asset, for the most part.  But it doesn’t hurt to turn our thoughts to the permanent home we will someday inhabit.  How much better is it to concentrate on Jesus and the place He is preparing for us in heaven (John 14:2)?  That is a dwelling place that “neither moth nor rust” can corrupt or make crumble in disrepair (Matt. 6:20).

Maybe we need to drive through old neighborhoods more often.  Maybe we need to be reminded that only eternal valuables transfer into eternity.

by Cindy Best

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