By Bethany Mathis
Originally Published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 6
When I was a child, I was rarely homesick. I loved spending the night with friends or grandparents, going on vacations or to camp. I really don’t remember a time when I longed for my home. It’s not that my home was a bad place to be. I was well taken care of and loved by my family. Maybe it was rooted in the fact that my parents were divorced, and I went back and forth consistently, or maybe I just liked to be on the go. Whatever the reason, the idea of being homesick for my own bed or my own couch feels a bit foreign.
As I’ve grown, I’ve become more familiar with this feeling. I’m still not a homebody, but a deep longing has been cultivated in my soul. You see, I believe that the feeling of homesick was built into our DNA—that we were actually created to feel a longing for where we belong, not necessarily for our own beds or couches but for something greater. Romans 8:18-25 reads:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
I recently read a quote by the author, Shannan Martin, as she recounts her story of selling her dream home to move to the inner city and follow what God was asking her and her husband to do. She asks, “How can we pine for heaven if we think we are already there?” That quote has haunted me. I have spent so much of my time creating a life here on earth that was comfortable and perfect. I wanted the perfect home with the picturesque yard. I wanted good jobs that could offer my family security and happiness. When I read that quote, I immediately felt weight. This is not my home. We were created for so much more—not more stuff or more money or more excitement. We were made for another home, a home that is created and reserved for those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord.
This truth that we are not truly home gives us much freedom. You see, in the above verse from Romans, there is a tension that Paul exudes. He writes that we are groaning as we wait, and we are in the midst of the pain of childbirth. The Christians in that time were under persecution and had to hold on to the hope of restoration and life beyond what was in front of them. For us, in our culture, I think that we can be so focused and consumed on the here and now that we remove any reason we would ever long for somewhere else. We add comfort, measure upon comfort measure, to our lives and tend to avoid friction or hardship. However, when we fix our eyes on the life that is to come—when we believe what the Bible says about eternity and restoration—we can have a freedom that allows us to stop seeking comfort. We can willingly walk into hard circumstances. We can do things like sell our dream home, foster or adopt orphans, give up saved money to travel overseas and share the gospel. We can let go of the extensive comfort measures we’ve taken and dare to think that God could use us in radical ways. We can give up the American dream for the promise of eternal life with our Creator. We hope for what we cannot see. We walk in the faith that every tear will be wiped away from our eyes and that all will be restored.
This promise allows us to feel deeply the pain of this world. Like many, I have experienced pain in my life. I have walked through betrayal and hurt and confusion. Knowing that I am living in light of eternity allows me to enter into my pain instead of avoiding it. Not only does it give me the freedom to feel deeply, but it creates in me a longing—a longing for home. I ache for the fullness of His presence. I thirst for living water. The closer I draw to Him, the deeper the desire becomes. It’s an anomaly—one that I believe we were created to feel. We weren’t created to live in this disorder and sin. It’s because of Jesus that we have a home to miss—a home that we don’t deserve, a home that was bought on the back and by the blood of Jesus Christ, a home so good and perfect that we can’t even imagine it with our human minds. What would it look like if we all walked in this confidence? What if we took seriously the promises of our Lord and walked with the sureness of eternity into obedience, wherever that may take us?
My hope for you is that you would turn your eyes upward and that your gaze wouldn’t be focused on the here and now but on what is to come. It is that you would draw near to the Lord and that the feeling of longing becomes more intense in your soul. It is that you would find courage to walk into your pain and hurt, and in doing so, the ache for God would grow.
I pray that you would be homesick.