The word "home" brings to mind many different images and feelings for people. Some of you did not grow up in a loving or welcoming home. Many have painful memories that are connecting with "home", while some have fond memories for "home". However, most long to either have or create a home where they feel loved, cared for, and known.
As my husband Brandon and I start out in marriage, creating a warm and inviting home is a priority for us. Even though we've only been married for a year and a half, our home has become a key part of our marriage and ministry, and we view our home as a means by which we get to offer others a glimpse of heaven.
Jesus himself tells the disciples before he is to be crucified that he will go ahead to prepare many rooms for his disciples in his Father's house:
In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2)
Jesus explicitly uses the image of a house to describe where he is going. While heaven might not be our typical construct of a house/home, Jesus uses this image to convey something to the disciples, that heaven is like a home, a place where you belong and are loved, cared for, and known.
In many ways, the desire to create a "home" is connected to a longing for an eternal home. A home that will be warm and welcoming for eternity.
In this life, when we work towards creating a warm and cozy and welcoming home, we are giving others a glimpse and a shadow of what our eternal home will be like. In many ways "home" is a great way to describe heaven, but it's a home that will be far greater than the most welcoming or even the most luxurious home we have ever known.
My family enjoys camping. From my middle school years on, my family regularly took camping trips. We started out as most people start out in camping, with tents.
I remember those first few years of camping in tents. We never slept on the ground but always on air mattresses, and in the morning, the dew on the outside of the tent would seep through the vinyl tent lining. While my family enjoyed a night or two in the outdoors, we always enjoyed coming home after the end of a camping trip to a nice warm bed and a hot shower.
Over the years, my family's camping experience has changed. While we started out with a tent, we ultimately upgraded to a pop-up and then eventually to a camper. The comforts of home traveled with us.
Here's the thing I've learned about camping: for most people, the amount of time you stay away from your home while camping is directly proportional to the comforts of home you bring with you. What do I mean by this? Most people don't like staying in tents for long periods of time, and the longer you camp in a tent consecutively, the sweeter it is when you return home.
Now, I might be making assumptions about people, but I have never met a person that would prefer a long night's sleep on the cold, hard ground to a nice warm bed. Most people would prefer their home to a tent.
Now, did you know that the Bible actually compares our time on earth to that of living in a tent? Check it out:
For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands. Indeed, we groan in this tent, desiring to put on our heavenly dwelling, since, when we have taken it off, we will not be found naked. Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.
So we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. In fact, we are confident, and we would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him.
(2 Corinthians 5: 1-9)
In this passage from 2 Corinthians, Paul is seeking to encourage the Corinthian church and remind them that this earthly dwelling is not their permanent home. He compares their live on earth to living in a tent, but their heavenly dwelling will be their ultimate home with the Lord. However, Paul's main point is that whether away or at home, their goal is the same: to be pleasing to God.
The same goes for us. Whether away from the Lord or at home, our aim should be to please the Lord, but we must remember that we're all just camping. This world in its current state is not our true home. Let that encourage you in the midst of hardship and suffering. This world is just the tent, and there are far better things to come in our heavenly home.
My mind raced as the tempo of my heart began to increase. My palms began to sweat and I felt lightheaded. My body felt like it was in the middle of an intense cardio workout, but I was just sitting in my kitchen. I could feel the fear rising within me, and the only thing I could think to do was go to my bedroom and lay on the bed and breathe, which is what I did. I thought I was dying, and the fear of not knowing what was going on led to one thought, "God please help me." I was having a panic attack.
I laid there for an hour and the only thing that helped my heartrate and breathing slow was thinking about heaven - paradise with the Lord.
This time last year, I was just beginning to walk through one of the hardest seasons of my life. After so many life transitions (marriage, moving, new job, and new community), my mind and body were on overdrive, and it lead to a season of internal and external anxiety which led to a rapid decline in my mental and physical health. Months of stomach issues, doctors visits, panic attacks, misdiagnosis of issues, and medications later, my stomach doctor found that what I actually had was an acute case of gastritis caused by internal stress and anxiety.
I was relieved to find out the root cause of my symptoms - anxiety that had led to gastritis, but long before I was physically healed the Lord started spiritually healing me.
That day that I laid on my bed and thought about heaven in the midst of a panic attack was a turning point for me. It was the moment my mind realized that my body and soul were longing for an eternal home, where the sufferings of this world would not longer affect me. That day, which actually was Valentine's Day, was the day I started truly longing for home.
This is the main page for the 31 say series, Longing For Home. Come back and visit this page anytime you want to see/read all of the posts from the series. The links to each day will be added after they are published.
Day 1: Longing For Home
Day 2: Beginnings
Day 3: We're All Just Camping
Day 4: Home
Day 5: What A Mansion Taught Me About Heaven
Day 6: The Ultimate Fixer Upper
Day 7: It's Not What You Think
Day 8: It All Started In A Garden
Day 9: God's Very Good Plan
Day 10: From Death to Life
Day 11: When He Said "It Is Finished"
Day 12: The Best Rest
Day 13: The Lord's Rest
Day 14: Heaven - Resources
Day 15: When Spring Comes
Day 16: When You're Still Waiting For Spring
Day 17: Lessons About The Resurrection From a Hike In Poland
Heaven - it's a topic that people bring up every now and then, but not something that many know much about. I was just talking with a friend the other day and she had a friend ask her what heaven would be like. This friend asked me this same question, and it was striking because heaven is a topic I have thought and read a lot about over 2017.
In many ways, this series has been years in the making, but the idea to write about heaven only came after a year of walking through health struggles which made me long for heaven even more.
If you were to ask someone what heaven is like, you would probably receive a number of different answers and most of them would not come from the Bible. While there is a lot that we do not and cannot know yet about heaven, there is much that the Bible does say about the eternal home and paradise for those who follow Jesus Christ. It's a topic that many wonder about, but few actually know what the Bible says about heaven.
The topic of heaven is what we'll be exploring over these next thirty one days as we ring in the new year, and I pray it helps us to start this new year with an eternal perspective in mind. I pray that it leads us to a greater love for God and a deeper longing in our hearts to see him face-to-face and to live with him into eternity.
Join me on this journey of Longing For Home - a 31 day series about heaven.
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She Laughs Without Fear