Saturday, August 16, 2014


A temporary stay. A brief residence. A short visit as a guest.

I just returned from a two week journey abroad, visiting places, experiencing culture, meeting people all new to me. Interesting. Exciting. Adventurous. But not comfortable. Not easy. It was not home.

Although my hosts displayed exemplary hospitality and the surroundings were beautiful, it was not home.

Although the weather was better, life was simple and easy (no cooking, no weeding) it was not familiar. It was not home.

Did I enjoy myself? Absolutely. Did I learn and grow? Did I love the people? Admire their culture? Savor the flavors and colors and design? Breathe in fresh sea breezes, exalt in white-hot sun, get lost in the treasures of their history? Yes, yes, and yes.

But did I feel at home? Not entirely. I was sojourning.

This morning I read Nehemiah 8. The people had finished rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem which had fallen to ruin. Exiles were now returning, coming home, settling. They had been gone a long time, but the whole time they were in Babylon they were merely sojourners. Finally they were home, back in Jerusalem.

And what does the Lord do? He reminds them of the Law regarding the Festival of Shelters.
They discovered that the Law, which the Lord gave through Moses, ordered the people of Israel to live in temporary shelters during the Festival of Shelters.  Nehemiah 8.14 (GNTD)
So they went and gathered branches of olive and palm, built shelters and lived in them for the week of festival. And they celebrated His goodness.

As I considered this celebration of shelter and faithfulness, home and journey, temporary and eternal - I knew it was a reminder to me that for as long as this world remains, we are sojourners. Our souls are longing for the comfort of home and the familiarity of heavenly culture, if you will. As Christians, as those entirely consumed with love for Him and His house, we are to long to "return", to walk in the halls resounding with His voice, His ways, His glories. To exalt in His treasure, gaze on His beauty, and be at home. At rest. Comfortable, at ease, sheltered, safe, full, full, full.

This is home - His presence, His heaven, His kingdom.

Meanwhile, every year, every place, every earthly home and experience, is merely another place of sojourning. We are not to be comfortable here. We cannot be comfortable here. It is not of us. It is not our inheritance. It is not our culture, our food, our delight. We are the perpetual onlooker, merely a temporary resident. Our work, our building, our investment is not here, but above.

So build the temporary shelter. Celebrate His faithfulness to protect us on our journey, to grant provision for the trip, to guide us along the way. But don't build home. Not now, not here. This is not our destination.

We are not home yet.