This week has been the first since our move that I have experienced real, aching homesickness. Until now I thought I had successfully dodged it–Ike and I have been having a lot of fun and we’ve stayed very active! The northern suburbs of Chicago are just gorgeous with lots of lakeside parks to explore, and with Chicago practically in our backyard we’ve had a lot of adventures there as well. Plus, we have a great apartment, great location, and everyone here has been super nice. What is there to miss?
The only analogy that I can think to describe this past week is that it’s been like the end of a wonderful summer at camp: You had a blast, made lots of great friends, and memories that will last forever….but now you’re ready to go home. That’s how I feel right now–I had a great time…but now I’m ready to go home.
Except I can’t.
As a result of this realization, the past few days have been tinged with a subtle melancholy that isn’t outright depression, but is clearly taking the skip out of my step. I really miss my family and my friends. I want to have a conversation with someone who has known me for more than a few weeks. I want to be back in my church community.
Last night I hit my lowest low and sat with Ike as I cried it out. Afterwards I decided to open my Bible and see what comfort I could find. I looked up the word “home” in my concordance, and it directed me to Psalm 84, wonderfully familiar words:
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere.
Psalm 84:1-4, 10a
This psalm was exactly what I needed. It reminded me of two very important things as I process this time:
1. Your church home offers a sweet taste of your Heavenly home to come.
As long as we live on earth, Christians are “resident aliens,” so to speak. We do not belong here. This is not our home. Fortunately, God has provided us with His church, the Body of Christ, which is a shadow of our eternal home. Within the Church we are not strangers; we are members. Within the Church we are not seen as fools but as wise. Within the Church we find friends who love us in a manner that reflects God’s love for us. It is the closest thing to our Heavenly home that we will experience on earth.
And when you are absent from sweet community such as this, you yearn to experience it again. The church is where the Christian belongs. That is how God designed us to be.
2. The church is only a signpost pointing to your Eternal home.
In other words, the longing I feel for my earthly church home should not distract me from my true and perfect heavenly home with God. The friendship and love I experience is a good gift from God to be greatly cherished, but it should not replace my relationship with Him. So as much as I cherish my friends and family, they are but the rays of the sun.
This week as I sense a deep yearning to be home, Psalm 84 has reminded me to look up instead of back. That ache I feel will one day be fully and totally satisfied by my Father in Heaven. So as much as I miss my home in North Carolina and will rejoice to be back there, God is already using this new challenge to draw me closer to Him. And when I think about it that way, it excites me to think about what other blessings and insights He has ahead!
In the mean time, to all my friends back home–I truly can’t wait to come home and see you! And to my God, I truly can’t wait to come home and see you. 🙂