I just returned home from a short vacation trip with family where I did more exercising than normal, including an 8-mile bike excursion and some serious hill-climbing hikes. I acquired an awakened realization that I was out of shape and needed to be more engaged in exercising. Having entered the tired mode it felt good to get home to a familiar and restful environment. Ahh, to be home! Nearly all people, and animals, have a place called home where they live and grow before leaving and establishing a home of their own.

Home is sometimes a theme of movies. For example, in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, a young girl, whisked away by a cyclone, finds she has landed in a strange country. She encounters many adventures, all the time longing to get back home. “There’s no place like home” is a famous line toward the end of the movie. Home is a wonderful and safe place to be when it is a place of peace, loving relationships, comfort, good food, and where one can be him or herself.

Unfortunately, homes are not always places of protection and safety. Home is not a good word for many who have experienced it as a place of physical, sexual, or verbal abuse.

Unfortunately, homes are not always places of protection and safety. Home is not a good word for many who have experienced it as a place of physical, sexual, or verbal abuse. In many homes, parents frequently argue, fight, and eventually split up, leaving kids feeling abandoned or emotionally torn apart. Sadly, many kids grow up not wanting to be home. Admittedly, no home is perfect, yet without the care of a reasonably good home, life is difficult and leaves family members fraught with unwanted problems. How much do we think about the importance of home? Generally, it seems people do not appreciate or value the meaning of home.

Famed poet, Robert Frost (1874-1963), wrote a classic poem titled, “The Death of the Hired Man”. The hired man, when he grows old, returns to a farm where he had once worked. He thinks of the farm as his home. The poem portrays home as a place of belonging where one learns the value of loving, caring, self-worth, and important life values. It is a cherished place, a place where one feels welcomed at all times. The hired man has come home to die. People need to feel cared for and loved by family.

Gerhard E. Frost, wrote a piece titled, Home Sounds. It goes like this:

I’m getting old; eleven twenty, my life clock says.

It’s getting late, and later, and I hear Home sounds.

Thank you, God, in this late hour, that you are here, and there.

What does God have to do with home, both here and there?

What does God have to do with home, both here and there? God made humans and animals to experience family, in homes. Paul Copan, in his book, Loving Wisdom, tells us about Arctic terns. These birds travel 11,000 miles each year from the Arctic to the Antarctic regions and back again – often to the very same nests. Copan also mentions Monarch butterflies. They follow their “homing devices,” migrating each year to their nesting grounds in California or Mexico. “Whether we realize it or not,” writes Copan, “we humans have a homing device for God.” He reminds us that unbelief does not dismiss life with God from being our proper home. The Bible portrays being home with God as the most restful and safest place to be. In the story of the prodigal son, God is inviting us to come home to him (Luke 15:11-24).

God created humans with an inbuilt desire for a place of belonging called home. The prodigal son realizes he is not in a good place with his life, and there is an inner longing to return home where he knows life is much better. Such a longing reminds us there really is a promised place where we can experience the perfect home, with the kind of family we need and wish was possible. Jesus said to believers, “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3, NASB). Such a home is not only a future hope, it is now, for Jesus invites anyone, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). God provides us with a place we can call home; life with family included.

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Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.