It was one of those questions I didn't really know how to answer. My folks moved every three or four years with my dad's job. We lived all over Texas. You could draw a line from El Paso to Houston and we had lived all along that line.
"I guess you say I'm from Texas, but right now I live ..."
This became my standard response. It's different for my kids. My son and daughter grew up going to the same church and living in the same general area all of their childhood. Yet even for them, the place they call "The Farm" is the place that probably has the strongest sense of home. Either way, they feel a lot more rootedness than I ever did.
Home, for me, has always been more about family than about place. So when my dad died when I was 25, my world was rocked, and suddenly Jesus' words called to my heart in ways I never could have anticipated:
"You trust God, don't you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home. If that weren't so, would I have told you that I'm on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I'm on my way to get your room ready, I'll come back and get you so you can live where I live" (John 14:1-3 MSG).
I had already done quite a few funerals before my dad's death, so I knew this passage was especially important to those who had lost children or lifetime spouses. The thought of reunion (1 Thessalonians 4:17) and going home really vibrated in my heart (2 Corinthians 5:1). Jesus' words mean everything to me now, "... plenty of room in my Father's home ... I'm on my way to get a room ready for you ... I'll come back ... so you can live where I live."
One of the great blessings I received from my dad before he went home to Jesus was a passion to know, experience, and celebrate the presence of the Holy Spirit. He refused to let people, churches, and doctrinal biases force him to give up his quest. So it seemed only "spiritually natural" that I found a great blessing from Jesus in continuing the quest.
Notice Jesus' teaching just a few verses after the great promise about preparing a place for us:
"No, I will not abandon you as orphans — I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them. ... All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them" (John 14:18-23 NLT).
After spending a week with 830 orphaned children, all of whom touched me and several of whom visit me each night in my dreams, these words cut deeper into my soul. They call me to seize a promise that is much closer than the first promise of Jesus. Jesus is basically saying that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — known as Comforter, Counselor, Advocate, Helper, or Friend depending upon your translation — will come to us, show themselves to us, and make their home inside us until we can go live at home with them.
Far more than God being with us or coming along side us, this is a promise of unfathomable grace. The One who painted yesterday's sunset and raised the curtain on today's sunrise lives inside of each of us. He is not only near, our God is within each of us! Yes, each of us is his holy temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and each of our bodies is a living sacrifice to him (Romans 12:1-2); but beyond that there is a profound new realization: I am God's home.
So what is my response? Jesus asks two simple things of us.
- Take comfort, none of us is ever alone, abandoned, orphaned, or forgotten. God is with each of us and within each of us.
- We offer God the hospitality of our obedience. We seek to be holy, not to earn God's favor or deserve his grace, but to welcome him to our place, his home, our heart!
So as you rush around trying to fill the void that only a sense of home can fill, take a moment today and welcome the Creator of the universe to his home, which just happens to be you!
What difference does it make to you to know that because of the Holy Spirit, God doesn't just draw near you or come along side you, but that he actually makes his home in you?
Some have suggested that all addiction has at its core the yearning to experience God in our lives. Do you think this is true?
- How does Jesus' promise about making his home in us speak to this yearning, this itch, this emptiness, that many of us feel?
- How should the promise of God's home being in us change our thinking and speaking about God and his holiness and nearness?
When is a time when you experienced the nearness and the indwelling of God within your heart? Go back and write down what that was like and all you can remember about it. Then share the story with someone you believe would be blessed to hear your story.