When you hear the word “Home”, what do you think of? The place where you grew up? The place where you currently live? The place that holds lots of treasured memories of family and friends? We are currently on what mission organizations call “Home Assignment”. As I reflect on this, I understand the meaning behind it, but if you dig deeper in to what ‘home’ really means, you understand it differently on various levels.
My wife Melissa, part of the Barnett clan, grew up in Kenya, at Rift Valley Academy at Kijabe. She’s lived half her life in the States and half in Africa, so for her, ‘home’ is not necessarily the US by default. Most of her childhood memories are from Rift Valley Academy. I grew up near Reading, PA. A local Pennsylvania yocal. Since we’ve been married we have a lot of memories that have been laid down in the areas of Hershey, Elizabethtown, and York. We have our Tanzanian home now as well. Our second born, Andrew, didn’t remember the States, and our last born Rachel was born in Nairobi and this is her first time “home”. So ‘home’ for them is in Africa.
So we talk about our American ‘home’ and our African ‘home’. And yet, deeper still, where is our eternal home?
Here’s a quote from Timothy Keller’s book The Prodigal God: “Then Jesus appeared, and declared that he was bringing in ‘the kingdom of God’ (Mark 1:15). The people crowded eagerly around to observe and hear him, but nothing about him fit their expectations. He was born not in a palace behind a royal curtain, but in a stable feed trough, on the straw, far from home. During his ministry he wandered, settling nowhere, and said: ‘Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’ (Matt 8:20). He remained completely outside the social networks of political and economic power. He did not even seek academic or religious credentials. Finally, at the end of his life, he was crucified outside the gate of the city, a powerful symbol of rejection by the community, of exile. And as he died he said, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matt 27:46), a tremendous cry of spiritual dereliction and homelessness. What had happened? Jesus had not come to simply deliver one nation from political oppression, but to save all of us from sin, evil, and death itself. He came to bring the human race Home. Therefore he did not come in strength but in weakness. He came and experienced the exile that we deserved. He was expelled from the presence of the Father, he was thrust into the darkness, the uttermost despair of spiritual alienation – in our place. He took upon himself the full curse of human rebellion, cosmic homelessness, so that we could be welcomed into our true home.” The Prodigal God, pp. 100-102
Thank you to everyone who has welcomed us to our American home. But may we continue to look towards our true home, with the Father, that Jesus has secured for us. – Jon