Hebrews 11:14-16 – These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Believers are not at home here. We feel out of place here. One of the things I am most thankful for in my life is that I feel like a man from nowhere. I was born in New Brunswick but do not feel at home there. I grew up in Newfoundland but it is not where I am from. I have lived longer in Toronto than any other single place but I would never say that I am a Torontonian. From 1971 to 1981 I lived in 11 different residences. It just seems that I do not belong anywhere. I found someone who was willing to share her life with me and I have made her as much of a nomad as I am. Sometimes that makes me lonely. Sometimes it makes me depressed. But sometimes it makes me remember that I am a man on his way home. I groan here in a spiritual sense because I do not feel like I truly belong anywhere. But I have a home that is perfectly suited to me. And when I get there it will welcome me in as a true son and I will be where I was created to be and I will be home. My whole life is a matter of seeking a home whose builder and maker is God. And I simply cannot imagine the glory that awaits me when I get there.
This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore
Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.
That, is Christian. It is how we are meant to feel.
I want to go down east again
and feel the salt on my skin
to stand on the shore on a misty morn
and know I’m welcomed as kin
And yet I fear that if I did go back
I would find that the place that I miss
disappeared from the scene while I was gone
and in truth no longer exists
No home at home and no home in the past
And then to finally stop the roam
And know that the search was doomed from the start
There is simply nowhere called home
But there is you know and it is great beyond measure
There’s a home where one day I’ll rest
My heart will surrender its lustful wandering
And stop at the home that is best.
And it will be better than what I remember
Better than what I have known
And the accursed ache will be gone for good
And I will finally be at home
That, I think, is what Hebrews 11:14-16 is about.
We are made for better than what this world is, in its current fallen state. God has put an ache in our hearts to be really home.
Romans 8:23 – … but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:1 tells us that we are in Christ and therefore not condemned. And then verse 18 says that while we are called to suffer, there is a glory awaiting us that far surpasses the severity of our suffering. And even though we now groan as aliens here, that groaning is going to stop.
Do you groan? What are your goals? You want to have a good career, a nice house, a happy family of healthy well adjusted children. Or maybe you are at the other end of life and you just want to have enough health to enjoy some retirement years and not be worrying about how to pay the bills. Not a thing wrong with any of that. But don’t let them be the top priority. Do not live here as if “here” is your resting place. Have bigger goals than a career climb, kids who can keep you comfortable when you are old and enough money to travel the world when there is finally enough time for that.
This is not a matter of having our heads in the clouds. It is a matter of living in the knowledge that living here for the glory God and the good of neighbour, as servants of Jesus Christ, really is worth it. We cannot out give the God who is saving a vast numberless host of people to live in a world that will never be marred by the sin that has wrecked this one. Set your sights on home. It will make you a better citizen of the place you currently occupy.