That phrase took on new meaning for me Monday night. We’d been to visit family on the east coast for 10 days. It was, in many ways, a good trip. We celebrated my husband’s grandmother’s 80th birthday (12 great-grandchildren were in attendance). We visited with aunts and uncles and cousins as well as parents, grandmothers, a sister and brother-in-law, a nephew and a five-week-old niece. We went to the beach, the boardwalk, played mini golf. The kids fished. My husband and I read a lot.
But it wasn’t paradise by any stretch of the imagination. Sleeping conditions were less than ideal both in terms of space, comfortable beds, and temperature. For us Texans used to summering the heat with blasts of the AC, no AC proved a challenge, especially in 95% humidity! I confess, it made me grumpy in the end. Add to that being at the beach (in the same house) with thirteen people, including the newborn, a three-year-old, and a 92-year-old grandmother, all of whom we had to feed three times a day and things got a bit hairy. I like my space and I didn’t get much of it.
By the time we hit Baltimore for 24 hours of just our family before catching our flight home, we were exhausted and I just wanted to be in my own house. A rain delay at the airport meant that didn’t happen until nearly midnight on Monday. But as I lay in my own bed, I felt the grin on my face and I thanked the Lord that I was home.
That’s when it hit me. The joy of coming home.
I confess that I’ve never been one that “longs” for heaven. In my younger years, as I dealt with issues of rejection and unworthiness, I feared heaven, feared I wouldn’t be let in or, worse yet, would be tossed out. Later, as I truly understood the love of God and accepted as truth how He sees me now, heaven didn’t scare me, but I didn’t necessarily long for it, either. Monday night I understood.
This life is like our trip—we live with people we love, enjoying them, enduring them, surviving often less-than-ideal conditions, reveling in those occasional rapturous moments, but all the while knowing we can (and must) endure because it is only a short time until we will be where we belong, in a place that feels familiar and safe and comfortable and peaceful.
So our family is at home now. All together again. I’m happy but tired and swamped with things to catch up on. And I have a new inkling of the satisfaction that will come when I finish my sojourn on this earth and take up my citizenship in my true home—heaven.
(At least when I get there I won’t have to deal with mounds of laundry or mail—or an empty pantry!)