Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. (Hebrews 11:13-14 The Message)
Beverly Mitchell returned to her Douglasville, Georgia, home after a recent vacation to discover that things weren't exactly as she left them. It was obvious that redecorating was going on — carpet was torn out of her rooms and one room was repainted. The pictures in the house, she noticed, were not her pictures; smiling at her from them were the faces of people she didn't recognize. There was a washing machine and dryer in the house, and Beverly didn't own either. The biggest surprise was that there was a dog in the house. Beverly didn't own a dog. Now the dog was the biggest surprise in the house until Beverly came face-to-face with the person who was living in her house.
Turns out that her name is Beverly, too. Her name was Beverly Valentine. Beverly Mitchell didn't know her. Near as she can tell, she had never laid eyes on her. But, she had apparently moved into Beverly Mitchell's house, along with her dog and washer and dryer. She was wearing Beverly Mitchell's clothes, had replaced all her pictures with her own, and had begun redecorating her house. She had apparently even changed the electric service over to her name.
No one is sure exactly why she decided to move into Beverly Mitchell's house. It seems obvious that Beverly Valentine's plan wasn't going to work. Beverly Mitchell's house couldn't possibly be her home for very long. It seems so obvious that you wonder if Beverly Valentine's mind wouldn't allow her to see that. Or did she just not care that it would only be a temporary home. And why redecorate? You wonder why she would choose to put down roots somewhere she knew she couldn't be for very long.
While we're wondering, let's wonder about ourselves, too.
Let's wonder about ourselves, because something very much like what Beverly Valentine did goes on day after day in our world. We human beings choose over and over to make our homes in a place that can never be home for us permanently. We put down roots in a place we know good and well we won't be for very long. We have a remarkable ability to convince ourselves that this world can and should be our homes, and we go to great lengths to maintain the illusion that this is where we belong.
We redecorate. We work for career advancement and larger paychecks and better benefits. We fall in love and marry and divorce and fall in love again. We buy new houses, new cars, new toys, and new clothes. And we do it all, often for only one purpose: to convince ourselves that we're at home. To make this world seem a little more like home.
Don't misunderstand: there are some good things in this world. There are people we love and things we enjoy doing. There's beauty and joy and goodness; this world still bears its Creator's fingerprints. It's a nice place to visit and the Lord has something for us all to do here. But, as we live here and work here and raise families here; as we invest and save and prepare for retirement; as we meet our responsibilities, enjoy our hobbies, enjoy music, walk on beaches, and go to football games; and as we go about life in this world, we must remember something very important — something fundamental. This is not home.
No amount of redecorating will make it home. Nothing we can buy, achieve, attain, earn, or find can make it home. If we make this world our home, we will always be disappointed. Sooner or later, like Beverly Valentine, we will be forced to acknowledge that what we wanted to be our home wasn't a home for us at all.
The Bible tells the story of people who often forgot to keep their eyes on that truth. The best of us forget that this world isn't home for us. But, the true people of God are those who have realized that there is no place to call home in this world. They accept the fact that they are "transients in this world" — folks just on a journey to another place.
We are "transients in this world." How do you like that "t" word? Makes you think of ratty hotels, desperate people, and gritty lives, doesn't it? Good!
Instead, Jesus calls us to live with a vision of a home that's too big to be contained by this world. He calls us to be homesick for the place he has gone to prepare for us and anxious for the day he comes to take us there. He calls us to see beyond the pull and responsibility and demands of this world to the promise of God's kingdom. He calls us to look always for our true home and live as if that's the greater reality. Because it is. It is.
Let the promise of a home better than this one be your pulse, your driving force. Let it bring a dose of reality to all the false urgency and pretentious importance of this world. Let it keep you from ever being content with the home you have here. Discontentment with the world might be God's greatest work of grace in your heart.
Nothing you try will make this world your home. It just isn't a suitable home if you're a child of God. There's something in you that will only be home when you see the face of your God and your Savior and rest at peace in his arms. Then you'll see that this home is what you're made for. That's what your heart beats for. Only then will you be content and secure.
Only then will you be, finally, at home.