The word “home” is one of those words that is sort of hard to pin down. It is the kind that really can’t be described by one definition or any one person’s understanding of it. There are “homelands”, “hometowns”, “homefronts”, “homebodies” and “homecomings”. Sports teams look forward to playing “home games” and armies have forever preferred to fight on their “home turf “. Even games like baseball and tag use the word “home”. And why not? They use it for everything else.
Comedian George Carlin used to do a bit about the difference between football and baseball. He would says, “The goal in football is to physically attack the enemy’s territory, drive through their defenses and force the ball into the place they were most desperately trying to keep your team out of…the end zone. In baseball…the goal is to simply …run home…run home.” It was a pretty funny bit, but sometimes the subject of home is no laughing matter.
My father and mother passed away in August of 2012. It was a pretty tough year, needless to say. Dad’s passing was the result of a three or four year battle with dementia. As the mind and memory got progressively worse, he would often talk about “going home”. I learned from the specialists who took care of him that the part of the human mind where memories are stored works like a stack of plates. The ones on top are the short-term memories and those are the ones that deteriorate first. The ones on the bottom are the long-term memories and those stay with the patient the longest. So as the disease approaches it’s final stages, usually all the patient can remember is their childhood and where they grew up. Home. That is pretty ironic, is it not? The memories that are the most durable are the ones that have been with you the longest, the thoughts of the home of your youth.
The common thread in all of these uses, as a I see it, is in each case the presence of the word “home” conveys comfort, peace and security. In the course of our lives, we are often forced to wander away from those comforts and securities for all kinds of reasons. But no matter what leads you away, and no matter how long you are gone, there is always that yearning to get back, although in some cases we never do and that is very sad. But sometimes it just cannot be avoided.
The English word “home” is derived from the word “ham” which meant “homestead”. That is why a lot of cities in Great Britian end in “ham”, like Nottingham, for instance. Ancestry.com says that the name Nottingham meant “the homestead of Snots people (no, I did not make that up, that is what their website says) and that the “s” was dropped in the 12th century because thecombination “sn” was alien to the French language at the time. I’m sorry, but I just can’t help but chuckle a little when I think that without that 12th century tweak, the villain of the infamous story of Robin Hood would be known as the “Sheriff Of Snottingham”. Oh, come on now, you chuckled too. I heard ya.
Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of “The Harbinger” (a book I recommend to everyone), says in his latest book, “The Book Of Mysteries” (another great one), that all of us have this deep yearning inside that many of us do not even recognize or realize is there. It’s a built-in, natural hunger for home. It is like the desire to eat, or sleep, or to love and be loved. It is a part of our makeup and part of who we are. It is not something that can be quenched easily, either. Oh sure, we sense the yearning and so we try to fill that hole in our heart with all kinds of things…money, careers, success, relationships, children and grandchildren. Even hobbies or vacations, all kinds of stuff. Some even turn to alcohol or drugs to try to numb those feelings of separation, not even realizing what they stem from. But none of those things truly satisfy the longing for home, do they?
The problem is those impulses, whether we believe it or not, were programmed into our DNA (as Rabbi Cahn writes) by our Creator. They are every bit as real as our tongue or our toes and they were placed there, inside of us, to point to a different kind of home, our eternal home. I like to think of it as our “eternal destiny.” We all have one, whether we realize it or not.
You see, ultimately, this world is not our home. This is just a stop along the way to eternity. Carrie Underwood sings a beautiful song called “Temporary Home” and the words go like this:
“This is my Temporary Home
It’s not where I belong
Windows in rooms that I’m passin’ through
This is just a stop, on the way to where I’m going
I’m not afraid because I know this is my Temporary Home”
King Solomon, one of the richest and most powerful men the world has ever known, wrote an entire book of the Bible called Ecclesiates that deals almost entirely with the futile, frail and temporary nature of our earthly existence. In that book, he writes the following:
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. [Ecclesiates 3:11 ESV]
“He has put eternity into man’s heart.” I love that. Did you realize that those deepest yearnings inside of you, the ones that you never seem to fully satisfy, the ones that “take a licking and keep on ticking” like a Timex watch, they were put inside you by God Almighty specifically to draw you back towards Himself, and towards your real home, the one that will last forever not a mere seventy or eighty years (if we are lucky).
My wife, Lauri Lee, just finished up a three week stay in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was a great trip. The weather was beautiful and being by the ocean is very comforting, especially for my wife. We met some great people, found a great church and even put an offer on a beachfront condo so we can come down and visit again, whenever “the weather outside is frightful” in Northeast Ohio. But as we always do, no matter where we travel or how long or short the stay is, we say, “Ah…there is no place like home.” And it so true for all of us, no matter where “home” is.
There is an old saying and I am sure you have heard it many times, “Home is where the heart is.” But if the Bible and Rabbi Cahn are correct, deep inside our heart there is an inescapable hunger for our “true home”, the permanent one we refer to as Heaven.
“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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” [John 14:2-3 ESV]
Jesus, Himself, said He was leaving the Earth to go and “prepare a place” for us in His Father’s house and it will be an eternal home, not a temporary home. And then, at some point, whether we are still physically alive or have passed on, He is coming back to get us and take us to our permanent home in the kingdom to come.
I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of missing that, that’s for sure. You, also, have been invited. Whoever you are and no matter what you have done in the past, your invitation is still valid and awaiting your response. Jesus said it this way:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16 ESV]
The word He used there was “whoever”….no limitations…no exclusions….you’re invited.
And this is one boat you do not want to miss….OK?