Have you ever felt homesick? You know that feeling that something is missing, as if a part of you is no longer there. With these feelings you may become easily distracted, little things remind of you what or who is missing in your life, you start to think about the next time you’ll get be whole again, and or figure out ways to get back there sooner than planned.
Homesickness crept into my life for the first time in awhile. Two weeks ago, I with my family, returned to our “home” in the UK after spending a few weeks in the US, our “home” country. Our time there was rich with ministry, reconnections with friends and family, and mixed emotions when saying goodbye.
Don’t get me wrong, we loved every minute we spent with people who are precious to us, but after a couple weeks of being “home” we were desperate to get “home” to our beds, to our house, to our ministry and normal routine. But everyone in our family hated having to say good-bye again to people we love. It was hard to repeatedly to stay as someone’s home, get use to be living there with them, and then just when you started to feel at “home” it was time to leave. A situation especially hard for our youngest son who, for him, it was the first time he got to know much of his family.
So we are homesick, but excited to be home. Confused? Don’t worry we are a little too!
As my wife and I have processed our conflicting affections, we’ve started to realize how few Christians live in this tension enough. I’m not saying you need to drop everything and move to another country in order feel the tension of being “home” but not being “home.” But shouldn’t homesickness be the reality for all of us who love Jesus?
It’s common christianese to say that this place is not our home, but our true home is a place we’ve never been–heaven. As a biblical truth I’d wholeheartedly affirm this yet there’s a rub. How many of us on a regular basis feel homesick for heaven? How many of us get distracted with wondering thoughts of being with Christ in heaven? Have that gut ache from missing home so much? Daydreaming about whether Jesus returns to be with us that day and what the reunion would be like? Or wondering when the Lord will take us to be with him?
That last question may have drawn a cringed objection in your heart, “I don’t want to die, I may love Jesus but I don’t want to die now.” It’s strange to think that part of missing Jesus could be looking forward to a time where he’d take us to be with him. Yet maybe we should a whole lot more.
Here’s what I mean. As a kid who’s parent’s divorced and who moved more than I can count, I think I become conditioned to homesickness. Not until I fell in love with my wife did I start to feel homesickness again. In the beginning our relationship we spent 9 months out of the year 3,000 miles apart. We hated those days (no mobile phones with unlimited minutes, or Skype, etc.) and we went days, sometimes months without hearing each other’s voices. Yet we functioned, we were able to live our lives without the other. Today we can barely function just a few days away from one another. A few months would be disastrous! When we are forced to be away from one another, we plan, dream, and get ready to see each other again.
Why aren’t we homesick for Jesus? Why is it we can be like this with people around us, but the one we are to love above everyone else we can function without? Some may easily go a whole day, a week, maybe even months without talking to him?
There’s lot’s of reasons for this. It’s hard to miss someone we’ve never seen, touched, or heard his voice. Eschatology can be a heated and confusing discussion, so we just avoid talking about Jesus’ return. It could also be that we just love being “home” and don’t really miss our home. I don’t think anything could get in the way of me wanting to be or see my wife after days of being apart. Shouldn’t we look forward to and prepare for our Bridegroom to return to get his bride?
The tension of being “home” but not being home should be a feeling Christian’s walk with all the time. But it’s also not feelings you can force yourself to have either. I can’t imagine forcing myself to miss my wife. It’s nonsensical. But as my love for her has grown over the years my need to be with her has increased. What we need is a greater heart for Christ, and as our love for him increases we’ll desire to be with him even more.
Thankfully we can’t do this on our own. We need God, who’s more than happy to give us love for him if we want it, so ask! I warn you though, you may become homesick for Jesus, our home.