Coming home, coming home,
Nevermore to roam;
Open wide Thine arms of love;
Lord, I’m coming home.
• • • •
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
– Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost
I love coming home. And the older I get, the more I love staying home.
The first decade of our marriage Sandy and I were home for only snippets at a time, spending the lion’s share of our lives on the road preaching, singing, counseling, and encouraging tens of thousands of saints in churches, youth camps, and Christian schools in mostly the right half of the United States. It was a hard and grueling schedule to be sure, but also rewarding and oh so satisfying. But the best part was ever and always the coming home part.
Coming home is the best.
Sandy and I will never forget the social worker telling us 27 years ago we had passed the home study and were cleared to go across the state line, retrieve our adopted baby, and bring him home. Gloryhallelujah!
I’m not saying I’m an agoraphobe, but while I do love destination vacations, I often get jazzed about getting back to my own hometown, my own bed, and my own predictable routine.
I heart my home.
Sandy laughs at me when I opt to just stay home when I’ve told her the day before how free my day is the next day, that I may just go off and do whatever. She’ll wake up in the afternoon (she works third-shift) and find me camped out in the living room or the backyard with my birds.
“You didn’t go anywhere?” she’ll ask with mock incredulity.
What can I say? I love my house. I’m a homebody.
But the truth of the matter lays ever before me – and for you for that matter, my dear reader.
We’re not home yet.
No Worries, The Band’s Tuning Up
It seems a missionary couple were returning to the States after 40 blessed years serving the King of kings in Africa. As the story goes, the ship that brought them to America also carried a celebrity. Theodore Roosevelt was also returning from Africa, having enjoyed a successful safari on the Dark Continent.
As the ship moved into port, there was a welcoming committee of bands, crowds, flying banners, and flags crowded onto the docks. Clearly the hoopla was arranged for the returning president, but there was nary a soul welcoming the gray-haired ambassadors home.
This bothered the husband to no end. Anger and self-pity assailed his soul, sinking him into depression. His wife became alarmed, challenging him, “Henry, you must take this to the Lord and get the matter settled. You’re no good to the kingdom in this state.”
And that is just what Henry Morrison did.
Fifteen minutes later he returned from a private room, having spent those minutes with an open Bible and aching heart before the Lord, and his wife took note of a profound change in his countenance.
“Henry, you’re smiling. Did you find the Lord in that room?”
“I did, my dear. He told me not to fret because we’re not home yet.”
• • • •
The story of the Gospel is the story of home.
- Abram was living in Ur, but he wasn’t home.
- God sent Israel a tongue-tied prophet to take them home.
- David lived in a palace but he longed for home.
- The prodigal found the world a poor substitute for home.
- John closed out the canon by painting a panorama of home.
The power of the gospel is the love of Jesus Christ.
The pull of the gospel is the longing in us to make Him our eternal home.
Safe Travels, Then Safely Home
Recently I was struck by a passage of scripture1 in a brand new way. Actually, the Spirit showed me something I’d never seen before. The context was Moses’ exposition of the Law to the people, particularly the part where God was requiring the males of Israel to make three pilgrimages a year to Jerusalem for the biggie festivals: Passover, Pentecost, and Booths.
What got me giddy was God’s promise that He would protect their homestead while they were gone, making sure that no one would even covet their property or squat there!
Picture it: God is house-sitting while those pilgrims were honoring their calling!
This reminded me of the gracious care of a God who thinks of everything. The promise is for those of us down here who are on an earthly pilgrimage, looking for a City, knowing we still have miles to go before we sleep.
Angst fills our minds: Will we get home? Is our address safe? Will there be rest for us?
But we also know when our journey is over, we will lay us down in fields of green in the care of a Great Shepherd who made a way for us down here.
Down here are are fears within and without, and valleys of death, but there – in good time – we will be welcomed Home2 in positively presidential style.
There will be an entrance, an entrance for me,
when I arrive at Heaven’s fair shores;
I will enter those gates triumphantly,
for there will be an entrance for me.3
I’m so thankful today for this truth. This unexpectedly arresting passage from Exodus reminds us just how intent God is to make sure, after our pilgrimage is completed, we get home.
22 Peter 1:11
3Refrain from an unpublished song I wrote years ago but I still sing to myself regularly