Homeward Bound

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Comings and Goings

Sometimes I think my smartphone is a little too smart. It keeps track of my comings and goings, and whenever I back out of my driveway, it anticipates where I’m headed, suggests a preferred route, and tells me how long it will take to get there. Sometimes it guesses incorrectly, but my phone’s predictions are usually accurate, given that I’m a creature of habit with a dependable pattern of destinations. Church on Sunday mornings, grocery shopping on Friday, dinner with Dad at his assisted living several evenings a week – my phone has made note of my whereabouts.

When I’m away from home and start my car, my phone always tells me how long it will take to return home. I can’t think of a time it’s suggested another destination, even though my Friday pattern almost always includes a stop at Starbucks after I get groceries.

The underlying assumption is valid though – ultimately, I want to get home safely.

Heading Home

As I was thinking about this the other day when my phone helpfully told me yet again how long it would take to get home, I mused, “What if I had something that told me how long it will take to get Home and the best route to take?”

Just as I wish to return home safely each time I depart, I fervently long to arrive Home. As dear as my little piece of property is, full of trees, shrubs, and flowers I’ve tended for almost 30 years, I’m reminded daily that this world isn’t my Home, no matter how lovely it is. This life is full of challenges, losses, and brokenness that make me yearn to be in the presence of the Lord.

Even so, I don’t really want to know how much longer my journey is. If I learned my earthly life was drawing to a close, I might despair of accomplishing the goals I’ve set for myself or dwell on the impact my death will have on my family. Conversely, if I discovered I had many years ahead of me, I might squander my time or grow weary at the thought of dealing with the trials of this life.

Closer Than We Think?

Further pondering led me to recall lyrics from a Michael W. Smith song, “I’m Waiting for You”:

You’re on the road
Thinking you’re far from here
And suddenly find
You’re very near

The words brought to mind two arduous events from the past couple of years:

Mom broke her hip, had surgery to repair it, and spent nine harrowing days in the hospital, days in which we kept vigil by her bedside, helpless and heartbroken. We made the necessary arrangements to bring her back to the home she shared with my dad, determined to care for her for whatever time the Lord allowed. We agreed to an interim stop at a hospice facility to stabilize her medication. It was there, barely 24 hours after she arrived, surrounded by family, that Mom took her last breath and slipped peacefully into the presence of the Lord. Just like that, her earthly strife was over. She was Home.

Last summer, I spent countless hours going through things Mom and Dad had accumulated in their nearly 70 years of marriage in preparation for selling their house. Given the hot housing market, I expected the house would be under contract quickly. However, I anticipated at least another month of checking the property each day while the buyers secured a loan, had the house inspected, and requested repairs. But we got a cash offer, and they wanted to settle the following week. Just like that, my responsibility ended.

Scripture urges us not to grow weary of doing good or to give up (Galatians 6:9). As one of my favorite podcasters said recently when describing the challenges of losing her mother bit by bit to Alzheimer’s, the Lord will allow trials to last long enough to accomplish His purposes, no more and no less. Though the two stressful scenarios I described above were relatively brief, even if a trial lasts a lifetime, it’s merely a dot along the line of eternity (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Traveling Companion

Now take a look at the first stanza of “I’m Waiting for You:”

I walked this road
So very long ago
To show the way
So you would know
I walked the road
With holes in my hands and feet
To make the way
Come follow me

Even though I don’t know how long it will take me to get Home or the details of the specific route God has planned for me, I have no doubt about the Way. Not only is Jesus the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) whose sacrifice ensures we will reach our final destination, He’s promised never to leave or forsake us. His Spirit dwells within us, guiding, comforting, and reminding us of all Jesus said. Furthermore, Jesus is preparing a place for us and has promised to return to take us to be with Him (John 14:2-3).

Being confident of the Way, I don’t need to know the distance remaining on my journey. Instead, I take comfort in knowing all my days were written in God’s book before even one came to be (Psalm 139:16). Each morning when I wake up, I do so with purpose, knowing God must still have something for me to do. When I’ve finished the good works prepared for me in advance, He’ll call me Home.

Dear Lord, one day I may leave home and not make it back, like Mom, but thank You that I have complete confidence that I will make it Home, as she did, because of Jesus. Until then, please help me to glorify You all along the route You have ordained for me.

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