By Annette McDaniel
When you think of home, is it where you live now or where you were born? Is it a place or a perception? An ideal or a reality? People form strong emotional attachments to the places they have lived. We are told “Home is where the heart is.”
My youngest brother returned from the Air Force to find his old bedroom had become his Mom’s office and art studio. Nothing of his remained. New paint and furnishings had transformed the room into a place he did not recognize and he felt an overwhelming sense of loss.
Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again.” In the sense that everything is different from when you left, it is true. Time has moved on and we cannot recapture the past. Life and events continually change and morph until all that seemed certain is changed. Accepting those changes is not always easy.
Adult eagles literally shove their offspring from the nest if they don’t leave on their own. Young wood-ducks, just minutes after birth, hurl themselves to the forest floor from their home in a hollow tree, in response to their mother’s call to join her at the pond.
If we are encouraged to leave home, we are also filled with a longing to come home. On a visit to Idaho, we stopped at my husband’s childhood home to find nothing left but the shell of the building his Dad had built with his own hands. But after his passing, the land was sold and the sad old house sat waiting for the bulldozer, no longer a home.
We also speak of a heavenly home but how can it be home if we have never lived there before? Or have we? The story is told about a rambunctious two-year-old who continually asked his parents to talk to his newborn baby brother—alone! They were anxious, fearing jealousy might be the motive or simply worrying that the toddler might try to hold the baby and not be able to do so safely. When at last they agreed, they furtively watched from an adjoining room. The youngster knelt beside the crib and gently took his brother’s hand. Softly he entreated the newborn, “Tell me about God. I’m beginning to forget!”
Perhaps as we grow older we forget more and more of our intimate connection to our Creator. As that connection fades we lose sight of the path back “home” unless we are shown. It is not the broad, smooth one— but a narrow, stony way. Ah, but our Guide has the “lamp for our feet and the light for the path.” (Psalm 119:105).
Jesus promised that in His Father’s house are many mansions. Having never lived in one before I’m excited at the prospect. We are advised to lay up treasures where moth or rust will not destroy. We are told that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. Are we ready?
The prodigal son arrived home empty-handed with only the rags on his back but he had prepared for his homecoming with a penitent heart. His reward? New clothes and a huge feast AND his Father’s forgiveness. What a homecoming!