As Regina and I begin to prepare for our next chapter in life after retiring from ministry November 1st, I have been thinking about other transitions in life. Each one I remember brought about both joy and sorrow, delight and sadness, energetic anticipation and grief over what had been. Certainly this is the case for me now as leaving the Chapel creates a plethora of feelings. This time has also prompted me to remember one of the first times I left home as a child to go to summer camp and the longing I felt while away to go home.
Home, that place where all is well, familiar, known, predictable, and safe. Home, where everything is going to be ok. Home, where all worries and fears are covered with a salve that just takes care of it all, somehow.
While many of us know first hand one cannot go home again, in that what we have left behind in the past can never be the way it was, how often do we think about going home again.
I believe all of this gets at a longing that is a part of many of our lives, whether we are aware of that longing or not. The Christian writer CS Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” CS Lewis suggests that all of us have a deep longing for God, to be with God, to be at home with God. If CS Lewis is right, it makes sense for each of us to ask the question, where is home?
As I have thought about this question, pondered scripture, Jesus’ life, and what so many others have written, it seems to me that you and I are always home. Always home, even when we are on the road, even when we are in a strange place, even when things are wonderful, even when things are scary, even when things are hard, even when we feel so far away from how things ought to be if all was well.
Perhaps the truth is, we are always home, because our home is with God, home is where God is, and God is everywhere, including right here right now. God is around us and within us. And so we need not search for home or try and figure out how to go home again, because our true home has never left us.
Over his life, David, who was King of the Promised Land, came to understand something about God. He shares his thoughts in Psalm 139. He writes…
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts. You see me when I travel. You know everything I do. You go before me and follow me. I can never escape from your Spirit. I can never get away from your presence. Wherever I am, you are there. Everywhere your hand will guide me and your strength will support me.”
God helped David understand that God is everywhere, God knows everything, and there is no place that God is not. It is impossible to get away from God’s presence. In his life, David longed for home. He often was in touch with who he was down deep and that he was God’s possession and creation, yet he had an inner longing to be home and he knew his true home was with God.
As we journey through this life with all of its transitions, I invite each of us to remember where home really is. When we do so, I believe we not only will experience God’s peace, but will have the courage to explore new places and the strength to endure those things we wish were not on our plates. That said, I must say that the last fourteen plus years among you, I have felt very much at home, and for this and so much more, I am very grateful.