Make Yourself at Home
In my almost 57 years, I’ve had some very unique experiences that were far from what was considered normal in my Southern Baptist childhood. I think that when you grow up within one denomination your perception is limited and your concept of God falls short. As I have traveled and learned from different churches, Christian ministry schools, and wonderful people who encouraged me to dig into the depths of God’s Word and discover more of Him, I have not been disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s asked everything of me to obey – every earthly thing and all the inner workings of who I thought I was. But I’ve not been shortchanged for through God’s plan for my life, I’ve gained so much more. I can boast that I have pressed in, that God is my treasure, and that hearing Him speak to me is my breath.
I believe there’s a parallel to always living in one place and only embracing what you know from childhood. There’s so much more to see, taste, and experience in the world. There are people to meet in other places and see how they live. There are emotions to cherish when you look at stars with your daughter in the Arizona desert. Or when you climb to the very tip top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, staircases that stretch your lungs for air, and look out over London. When you savor ladles of creamy porridge in the Scottish Highlands or taste real Cadbury chocolate. There will only be the first time you have a Guinness in England or take a train to Kansas City and walk in the ruts left by wagons headed westward or paddle a canoe in Canada. Wonderful moments that broaden a life.
I think the experiences that have the biggest impact on shaping us are the ones that last a bit longer. When you live somewhere and plant yourself in a community even if it’s only for a month. When you dig in and build new relationships or repair old ones. When you submerge yourself in a different culture and can remember the way the sun was coming through the trees when you watched a shepherd leading sheep down a road. And that hour you built your life on when he finally proposed and you breathed a ‘yes’ while realizing that God had saved this new relationship for you.
We say things like “there’s no place like home” or “welcome home” and “home, sweet home”. When we’re away and want to return, we might say we are “homesick” or “I’m going home”.
I recall when I lost a home and wondered if that longing in my heart would ever be satisfied. I remembered when others took what was mine while I stood by helpless to prevent it. Yet I have always carried in my heart those times when I felt at home, and that vase or that quilt that has traveled through decades, the box of journals, the friend who has been on the other end of the line for the last 23 years, and the hands that I’ve held. When I invited someone in and said, “Make yourself at home. Would you like some tea?” And I wanted that again.
As people, we were created to need and enjoy these earthly experiences that require honesty and intimacy of us. We were designed to be connected to people and to places. While I have loved and/or survived my momentary experiences and treasure them all, I really love a sense of being at home.
I used to live in cities where the homeless stood at intersections with signs. I would ask the Lord how I was to help them and once I heard, “Ask his name.” Why, Lord? “Because when you’re homeless, you can lose your sense of identity. Ask him his name, tell him I love him, and give him something to eat.” With each name called out, they responded with an expression that said they had been seen.
Garrison Keillor said, “Home is a spiritual place; it’s a place where your spirit settles down.” Out of 14 moves, I have had a greater number of temporary homes. There were fewer places where my spirit settled down. If the temporary places had deep lessons for me maybe the greatest treasure is the desire to put down roots and hold onto hope for the next place I felt I belonged. The next place that God has opened the door to, when you feel Him saying, “Make yourself at home and invite others in.” That kind of place. But do we need a home or can home be anywhere in the world?
In her book, “At Home in the World”, Tsh Oxenreider writes, “When I travel, I’m at home in the world — so long as I’m with the people I love most. But I still need a home in the world.”
I’ve not been unhappy, but I’ve had a knowing that where the handsome man and I have been living wasn’t permanent. But recently, we received the keys to a new home, a permanent “home, sweet home” kind of place. And while it’s new for me, it’s a childhood home for him built by his parents, and it’s restoring of a strong sense of foundation for us both. It reminds me of the conversations between God and the children of Israel that we read with friends when we moved in.
The Lord your God will gather you from there and bring you back again. The Lord your God will return you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will possess that land again. Then he will make you even more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors! – Deuteronomy 30:4-5
To say we are happy would be an understatement! We feel restored and are in awe of God. We want to be found faithful with “every good and perfect gift” dedicating back to Him all He gives to us. As we unpack and make ourselves at home, we will settle like those families that traveled by wagon train to new places, we will pioneer what He calls us to do, make some mistakes, and get some things right. We will live here, leave to travel to other places, and then return home again. And we will cook meals and invite friends over and we will say, “Please, come in and make yourself at home.”
And every morning, I will look at the blue hydrangea in the backyard (that I’d always wanted) and my heart will be glad at how God speaks through simple things. I will sit at my desk that is now out of storage and write words for you. I will plan a menu and prepare supper with the handsome man. We will seek God and wonder what in this world He will do with us next. And hopefully, the results of the life we make will long outlive us in ways that bless this world around us and leave a rich spiritual inheritance for our children.
I’ve found the truth in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s words, “It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.”
Here’s to more adventure, and here’s to being home.
From the desk by a new window where every day the pines stand tall in the sunrise.
(c) June 5, 2017 – Robin Lewis / Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC
“She was an adventurer at heart; but oh how she loved drinking this tea from this mug in this chair. Oh, how she loved to be home.”