Last summer our family moved for the tenth time in nearly sixteen years. That’s an average of one move about every year and a half. My six-year old has lived in five different houses. Our dog has traveled from Virginia to California and back. We have lived in apartments, houses, townhomes, and duplexes. In one we watched in horror as black smoke rose from our vents caused by a blazing mouse nest in our furnace. We have had our homes flood at least three times.
We have gone through mold remediation twice and lead abatement once. In one location, soon after moving in, we kept our bags packed, ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice due to the raging wildfire on the mountains behind our house. In another we were cut off from our town due to historic flooding and had to wait for the waters to subside to get groceries and head back to work. At times, in that same home, we all put on bike helmets and waited for tornadoes to pass in our “fort” (another name for our laundry room).
We have certainly had adventures and learned along the way. I like to think of it like packing a suitcase with new skills and tools we can wield when needed.
Living in so many houses has had its advantages. Through all of our moves, my husband and I continue to make mental lists of how we want our house to be once we finally settle down. We have learned not all faucets or water heaters are created equal. Not all construction is built to last and some ornate kitchen cabinetry may look nice, but provides a superb resting place for all of the splashes and crumbs we leave behind. We have indeed learned from all of the house issues we’ve experienced and are certain a house requires plenty of work to maintain.
Our children are always excited for the new adventure. They love moving into new houses, exploring new neighborhoods, and especially all the boxes and packing paper that cascade across our living room as we unpack, sort, and organize. It is exciting. Home, for them, is defined as wherever we are together as a family. We have led them through each change reminding them the Lord goes with us and has good work prepared for us wherever we go.
However, all of this moving has often left me longing for a home. Our home. A place we know and where we belong. A place with the perfect view from our many windows, with solid construction, a clean (mold-free) HVAC, and a beautiful piece of wooded land outside. Of course, we have no idea what settling down might look like, but all of these transitions stir in us a desire to have a home that is ours.
During one particularly challenging season when my husband was gone for work and I was alone in a new community, I began to consider what I really think will make me happy when we do settle. I started to investigate this longing, wonder where it was coming from, and if it would ever be fulfilled. I finally realized not one location or the perfect house will ever meet the need for the “home” I have crafted in my mind. We aren’t made to be completely content in our man-made houses. The Lord has been patiently teaching me that as we pack up again, wave goodbye to dear friends, and start each new adventure—he is the one constant in our countless changes.
Throughout the Bible, God makes a way to be with his people, to shepherd his flock, and, ultimately, to redeem them. When I consider all the ways God has been faithful to his people, I am reminded of his goodness and faithfulness in the midst of our changes. What great encouragement we have! He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve (Gen 3:8). The Lord called Abraham to a new land (Gen 12:1). He guided his people with fire and clouds during their harrowing exodus (Ex 13:21). He showed his glory to Moses (Ex 33:21-22). With the tabernacle, he made a way to be in their midst as they wandered, doubtful, in the wilderness (Ex 25:8-9). He gave his word to the prophets. He came to us at Christmas, the Word became flesh, dwelling among us (John 1:14), and he is coming again (John 14:3).
Now when I consider the idea of home, I put my hope in the words of Ezekiel 38:45, “…And the name of the city from that time on shall be, ‘The Lord is there.’” And Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
God is the home we ultimately long for. He has made it possible for us to find our place in and with him. We may long for a home now and be grateful to him when our desire for a temporary home is realized, but I thank God he has used our nomadic lifestyle to increase my longing for our true home with him. For now, we can appreciate the many houses he has provided while also looking forward to, “…an inheritance that will not pass away” (1 Pet. 1:14).
I can’t wait to exclaim, as the Unicorn in Lewis’s The Last Battle says, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it til now.” Our hope is not found in a home, a house, or peaceful, wooded acreage. Our longing for a home points to the ultimate home we have with him and the city where he will be the only light we need (Rev 21:23).
Featured image by wirestock.
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