In a church service here in Portugal, we heard a wonderful sermon on heaven being the real home for Christians, not earth. The pastor preached on how to ensure your eternal home in heaven. He cautioned us that the time to go “Home” is fast approaching, as the signs of the times indicate from Biblical readings. I thought about that today, as I realized that the time for leaving Portugal and heading home is rapidly approaching, too, and oh, how I want to go home, in both senses of the word.
I started packing for the trip home today. If you will remember, I wrote about procrastinating when it was time to come here, but believe me that is not the case now. Home is the place where everyone knows you, loves you, and cannot wait to see you. It is where squeals of joy erupt when you enter the room, validating your sense of value and worth. There are familiar people and places, and you know the customs and don’t chance making a fool out of yourself because of your ignorance of the local culture.
Home is where friends come to share a meal and laughter, especially old friends who have been a part of your life for so long that you just cannot imagine the rest of your life without them in it. You speak the same language, and because you know each other so well, sometimes you don’t even need words to know what each other is feeling or thinking.
Home is where all of my useful and useless items are, where my dreams originate, and I don’t have to pretend to be anyone but myself. It is where I play my music as loud as I want, and I don’t apologize for my choices in music. As my mother would say, “If you don’t like my music, stay on the other side of the door.” There is such freedom there.
Home is a powerful word for someone like me who had no permanent home as a child. Between ages 9 and 13, my sister and I changed homes three times, as our mother pursued her dreams and my father just disappeared. It seemed that my whole childhood was spent adjusting to the different rules of the various aunts who reluctantly took us in. I remember that in one of the homes, my sister and I ate standing at the sink, while my cousins sat at the kitchen table. I envied them, for even though I was only about ten years old, I knew that was wrong and that it meant we did not belong. Even though they were kin to us, they were not truly family, and their house was not our home.
I love the home that Douglas and I share, for it is a great reflection of the two of us; it is not just a house, but a place of love, joy, peace, and laughter. He has his office space for writing and I have mine. I miss touching my things, if that makes sense to anyone, and I look forward to looking out of the front window and seeing the familiar comings and goings in my neighborhood. No, I am not a busy body, I just like to keep an eye out for the irregular. That is what I believe that neighbors should do.
Home is also where we serve the Lord our God, our church home. I miss teaching the Sunday School class filled with people I adore. I look forward to praying with and for the people who hold me accountable to be Christ-like in my ways and attitudes, as we strive together to learn and obey God’s words. These are the people that I hope to see in my heavenly home.
Revelation 21:1-4 states, “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”
The songwriter expresses my elation at the thought, as Eliza Hewitt wrote, “What a day of rejoicing that will be, when we all shall see Jesus, we will sing and shout the victory.” Home will be a place of rest and there will be such amazing and lasting demonstrations of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, including much love, joy, and peace. Each will have a dwelling place, and we will not only see Jesus, but we will be like HIm.
So, as we prepare to leave Portugal, we are ensuring that we don’t forget anything that we brought with us. The same is true of our heavenly home, for we need to ensure that we are doing everything necessary to be prepared to meet our Creator, to be a part of the Bride, living lives of obedience to God, for He prefers obedience to sacrifices. It is not a home we can buy or earn, but it is through our faith in Jesus Christ and living according to God’s will for our lives that God rewards us with eternal life. It is a gift, not a payment.
Douglas and I will travel again, but for shorter periods of time. We still have so much of the world that we want to see and experience. We will probably return to Quarteria at least once more, for the place has stamped itself into our hearts and souls, and we will miss the blue skies, beautiful and changing light over the ocean, and walking down the boardwalk people watching and smiling. But we know that a day will come when we will be called to our eternal home, and we will never leave home again.