Revisiting the Thoughts on Home…

23 02 2008

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As we prepare our move back to LA, I was reflecting back on the topic of home again. And then I was reminded about the article I wrote about 2 years ago when we just moved to Bartlesville, OK.  Here we are once again changing the place where we call “home.” It’s amazing how much we amass over just 2 short years and how much time, money, and energy were spent.  I hope you enjoy the article and meditate on your real home:

“Have You Found Your Home?” (April, 2006)

It has been less than a month since my family packed up our belongings and made a big move to a small town called Bartlesville–40 miles north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. My company has asked me to start a new project in a rural city providing after-school learning service. By God’s grace, we found a house to rent that has funky green carpets in the bedrooms and spacious tile floors in the rest of the home. It has a backyard big enough to set up a volleyball court. And there in the backyard is something you don’t see in most homes in the West Coast—a storm shelter. Even though it’s not our house, my wife and I are happy with the upgrade from a small 800 sq. ft apartment in Seattle to a 1600 sq. ft. house in Bartlesville with a slight decrease in rent. It is our new home.  

Home is one of the universal longings of mankind. No matter who it is, the word “home” evokes special feelings dear to his or her heart. It is a place of warmth, comfort, familiarity, and security. The Bible also has examples of God’s people seeking a home. David, in his Psalm 23, ends with a sincere prayer, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Peter, James, and John, during Jesus’ transfiguration, asked if they can build shelters up there since it is so good to be there. Whenever people visit beautiful places near waters or up in the mountains, they often think about building a home there. Nowadays with soaring real estate market, home has taken up additional values, as a means of investment and security for future.  

Since I left Rowland Heights over 4 years ago, I’ve been thinking more deeply about the subject of home. “Home is where your heart is.” We often hear this cliché reminding us that home is where our loved ones are. Some time ago, I thought more deeply about this cliché in light of the Scriptures and asked myself, “Is my home truly where my heart is?” I concluded that it couldn’t be because my heart is so fickle and inclined to the things of this world.  So I turned to the Bible and found a passage that directly speaks on the topic. It is in no other than Hebrews 11 also known as “The Faith Chapter.” I want to examine the verses 8 through 16 and share some truths I have been pierced by: 

1)     We must leave home to find home. In other words, we must first be strangers before we can find our home. Heb.11:8-9 refers to Abraham who left his home by God’s calling. These verses point out that Abraham left “even though he did not know where he was going.” He is originally from Ur, a place of his father and relatives. His father Terah moved the family to Haran and he was buried there. Based on the cliché’s definition, Ur should be his home but God had a different plan. It had to start with Abraham leaving his filial home. While I am fully aware of the fact that everything Abraham did does not necessarily apply to us, we can find that this is not the only incidence that God called His servant away from home. We find that Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Jesus, the Apostles, and Paul have all left their home. 

What is it about leaving home that just about everyone God used mightily in the Bible had to experience? Just as much a home is a nurturing and comforting place, it also takes a powerful hold of our heart. Since comfort and security are some of the most basic human needs, they root deeply into our psyche and compete with our allegiance and obedience to God. Until we leave the comfort of our family and friends, we will never experience whole dependence on God. God will always have to share His place in your heart with the things that provide security and comfort. Therefore, it is not surprising that God frequently calls His servants out of their home. Hebrews author highlights Abraham’s faith in God which enabled him to leave without knowing the destination. This kind of reckless faith brings even greater glory to God because Abraham trusted in God Himself more than the lack of knowledge of the destination or other factors that can provide security. God alone was enough reason for him to leave. He alone must be our security and comfort.  

Another value of leaving home is that we become strangers in a foreign place. We know from verse 9 that Abraham became “like a stranger in a foreign land” which meant giving up his nice home and land for a life in tents on the road. For a sojourner, mobility is the most important element in the journey. This means he must neither amass too much possession nor commit to any long-term affairs. God wants His people to remember that we are strangers this world and focus on the journey. Peter echoes the importance of God’s people remaining as strangers in this world (1 Pet. 1:1, 11 & 2:17). Moreover, as strangers, we can be a blessing onto those outside of our social circle. When God called Abraham in Genesis 12, His great promise was that Abraham will be blessed in order that he can be a blessing onto all the people of the world. God’s blessing always has a purpose so much greater than an individual. He longs to bless the world for His great name’s sake. This is the explicit reason (Gen. 12:2-3) God called Abraham to be a stranger in the land of Canaan. One can summarize that the whole Bible is a story of God’s fulfilling of His great promise to Abraham as a blessing to all the nations.   

2) The second important truth is: God is the builder of our home. The writer points out in verse 10 that God is “the architect and builder.” He plays the two critical roles in building a home—designing and building. The designer or the architect visualizes all aspects of the home before single brick is laid. The builder takes the drawings and brings it to life. Not only is God the designer but also the builder of our home. He builds it brick by brick. How often have we thought that once God give us a vision, then we can start on it with our might? This passage clearly teaches that God not only gives visions but also carries them through as the builder.  An interesting fact is that even after Abraham had arrived and lived in Canaan the Promised Land, it did not seem like the Promised Land that is supposed to be flowing with milk and honey as described in Exodus. In fact, it was far from it.  We see that Abraham left the land several times without any reservation to neighboring countries because of famine.  The Promised Land or our home may not be a place of prosperity as we often expect. There may be times of strife and pain but God is the architect and builder. He builds different homes for different purposes. These homes can range from a mansion to a rundown shack or even tents. God gives us the freedom to choose. You notice that Abraham and his family lived under tents. He willingly left his home for tent because he knew that God had a different home in mind.  

3) Lastly, our home is not of this world. The Hebrews writer reminds the readers who were under severe persecutions that there is a city God has prepared for them. Abraham and all those who lived by faith knew that they were strangers to the earth and that God has prepared a place for them in heaven. Because of this faith that chooses a life of a stranger in tents over a life of comfort in mansions, the writer writes, “God is not ashamed to be called their God.”  A life that chooses God over any other comforts and security of this life shows the true worth of our great God. That is why God is pleased to be called their God.  Is God pleased with our faith that reflects His infinite worth or is He ashamed by our unbelief that devalues His worth and glory?  

In light of these truths, let me suggest a new definition of home: Home is where God’s heart and my heart meet. It’s not enough for God’s heart for me to be in one place when my heart is not. A good example is Jonah whose heart was far away from Nineveh where God’s heart was.  Similarly, it is not enough for my heart for me to be in a certain place when God’s heart for me is elsewhere. Both hearts must meet regardless of the location. I do not claim that there is necessarily only one place that God’s heart is for me. He has revealed enough of His desires for us to know where His heart is for you and me. God has a home already designed for us to find and dwell. Are we searching for that home or are we too busy living to buy our dream home? One day we must all stand before God and answer to this simple question: “How did you prepare yourself for the heavenly home?” My prayer is that all of us will continue to live a life of a sojourner on our way to home—traveling light, holding onto things loosely, and ready to move when our Master calls. Brothers and sisters, as Steven Curtis Chapman sang, “We are not home, yet!”




3 responses

24 02 2008

Sung & Nicole,
You both are such an encouragement for everyone. Your faith in the Lord is all aspects of your life and going out of your comfort to know Him better. We pray that God will draw you closer with each new adventure He leads you through!

25 02 2008

Hi Mary,

Thank you for your words of encouragement. We constantly struggle with all the securities and comforts the world offers. May the Lord cause us to find deeper and lasting joy from Him alone. We hope to see you when we visit Seattle in the summer.

Sung & Nicole

25 02 2008

hey sung and nicole…i was reading this and it reminded me to keep focus on the goal/”the prize”. in reach, we are always thinking about you guys and praying for you. this might sound weird, but whenever i see someone using the wireless mike on stage, i think of you sung…haha…i just imagine you wearing it cause i think for me you were the first to use it that i saw. haha i don’t know…hope all is well.

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