I’m going home. Recently I visited my grandmother in Texas where she lives in a home and receives full-time care. At ninety-six her body is strong, but her mind has slipped. Most days she cannot put intelligible words together. Occasionally, however, she is very clear when uttering a few words. On the first day after “visiting” with her, I told her I would be back to see her tomorrow, and she very discernibly responded, “I won’t be here.” I asked her where she would be, and again she stated with great clarity, “I’m going home.” At that moment those words broke my heart and brokered tears. As I have been pondering her words and that twinkle in time, I have realized that those are the most beautiful three words anyone can say with the confidence Pete did that day. Despite her deficits, she knows her desired destination-Home. Those three words still make me cry, because I now perceive them as a beautiful declaration of her destiny rather than a brutal depiction of her desperation. I’m going home. That is the hope of all our hearts. I’m going home. It is the mantra that rings in the background of all our messes. When we know our eternal home is Heaven, are there any more beautiful words? 2
Corinthians 5:6-9 ~So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.
Not just anyone can build a house, a carpenter does. Only He knows where all the highs and lows will be. He knows all the specifications to include that will assist the house to withstand the elements. Only the carpenter knows just the right foundation to build on, and how to prepare it to carry the weight of the house. He knows just where to hammer the nails to strengthen the home. A house is the work of His hands, and He puts great care, attention, and love into His masterpieces. We should often ask ourselves; who is building our house, the carpenter or the world?
My heart is so heavy and my chest so tight tonight. I do not know that the fires of our furnaces ever die. I think they always simmer discretely somewhere deep within, only to be reignited by sharing in the pain of others.
I am grateful to have known suffering and, in turn, God’s mercy and love as He walks through it with us. It is a beautiful thing to see God’s people rally around the hurting. Prayer is a beautiful thing. Tears are a beautiful thing because they shed the weight of our hearts so they will not implode just when it feels as if they may. But God’s word, it is the most beautiful gift.
When we believe the One who holds us in His hands was at the beginning and already knows the ending; it is a comfort that we cannot gain from any other source. Having a Savior who lived a life of suffering so that He could identify with us in ours is a the balm for our bleeding hearts.
No one can console others like travelers who have walked similar dirt roads. Isn’t it a blessing that Jesus walked them all, and there is no path we travel that He does not understand.
As my heart and mind keep churning, I opened my journal a minute ago to see immediately Psalm 46:10 ~ Be still and know that I am God, and that was it. That was enough for today. It was enough yesterday, and it will be enough forever.
Keep praying with faith friends so that the hurting may be held up. God will bring great glory to His name through His work and His people. All of you praying are part of God’s story. Don’t you feel special? What a privilege to go to the Lord on behalf of our brothers and sisters. It is a beautiful thing, and you are all shining lights that contribute to this broken but beautiful life!
May we all continue to walk with each other well on this journey home. Home–that is where we are all traveling, because we are not there yet.
If we are not keeping our eyes on the cross, we are merely a blind man driving home.
Last Sunday our Sunday School teacher took us on a short field trip on the church campus. We were lead to the cornerstone of our church, and he gave us a brief history lesson about the church and a touching exhortation to be the church. He also pointed out the three crosses that stand high above our church building. The one in the middle stands the highest, and the two on each side a little lower. The two lower crosses represent the crosses of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus. The higher one, representing the cross of Jesus. The message was particularly special to me because those crosses, the highest one, in particular, holds special value in my life.
In September 2005, my parents were in town visiting. The second day they were here, my mom and I dropped my children at pre-school and headed to Sam’s. We had just parked when she got a phone call. It was my dad. “He said something has happened, and I cannot see.” Our Sam’s trip was averted, and we rushed back to my house to check on him. We would later end up in the emergency room to find out he had a stroke in his eye. This would be my dad’s second stroke. The first had affected his opposite eye. Now both eyes were impaired.
As hours passed, and the story unfolded, we found out he was in the car driving down Columbiana Road when the stroke besieged him. Our church sits on Columbiana Road. Although my dad had very limited vision, He said he could see ONE thing. The high cross that stands guard at the top of Shades Mountain Baptist Church. He went on to explain that he knew if he slowly proceeded toward the cross, he could find his way home because I lived just down the street. Miraculously he drove himself home, the cross guiding him the whole way.
After our field trip last Sunday, we were walking back into the church and I mentioned my dad’s experience to my husband. He said to me, “I still do not understand how he drove home blind.” It was at that moment that God spoke to my heart. The message direct and simple, “If we are not keeping our eyes on the cross we are no better than a blind man driving home.” Wow! I had chills, and I love how God used that little Sunday School field trip to go beyond our teachers lesson and deposit His own message into my heart.
We are all just driving home friends. Where are we fixing our eyes? On the world, on our problems, on our pain, on our possessions, or on the cross?
Sometimes my vision gets distorted. There are many things the world has to offer to distract my eyes. My flesh wages war against my sight. The goal is not perfect vision, but progressive vision. We must always be advancing, focusing and refocusing towards that one thing that now or later will make all things clear and guide us without fail, even in darkness-The Cross.
I know your “drives” sometimes become treacherous. I know your vision often feels blurry. Mine too, but Keep returning your eyes to the cross friends. It is the only way to get you home.
I’m going to be honest for the sake of being transparent because I have learned that it is in admitting my struggles that I find freedom, and maybe loan a little out, too. Holidays are difficult for me. Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, 4th of July, I have to fight some degree of sadness, and sometimes my fight is weak.
I grew up in a big family. Everyone lived within a reasonable distance. Holidays were very grand at our house and my grandmother’s houses. My mom and grandmothers were all exceptional cooks and fed many small armies over the years. As much as the food, I remember the fellowship, the laughter, the sporting events on TV, big firework displays, football games in the yard, all the men falling asleep on the couches. I remember masses of people, the constant roar of conversation and laughter; and the euphoria of kids everywhere, a lot of kids!
Every holiday was as old as it was new, foreign as it was familiar and frayed as it was fancy. They were truly wonderful times that wove priceless memories deep into my heart.
As The 4th of July approaches again, I have felt that familiar restlessness settling into my soul. I have to be intentional to remember the happiness of what was while forging gratitude in what is. What is, is still beautiful, it is just different. If you have the luxury of having most of your family healthy and close by, don’t take it for granted. You are blessed. I am blessed too; my blessings just look different than yours.
Two weeks ago I was flying back from Texas, where all of my family lives, to Birmingham. As I was standing in line waiting to board the plane, a dialogue was playing in my head. Was I flying back home or leaving home? There was a sense of confliction in my answer. Later, I realized that the answer didn’t matter because home is where the people we love are, and that can be many places. Also, in his grace, The Father reminded me that all these homes are just temporary resting places along the journey to my forever home. There, it will be one big, ongoing reunion with all those I love in attendance.
Jesus promises “in my Father’s house there are many rooms.” (John 14:2) I am so grateful because we will need them! As for this holiday, it may be quiet, it may be small, but sometimes it is the quiet and the small that create the most sparkle! More importantly, it is about focusing on cherishing my blessings and committing to choosing joy in all situations, whether they are extraordinary or ordinary. In retrospect, I often realize that so much beauty in this life is intrinsic to the ordinary.
Yesterday our family set out on what was supposed to be a short hike. It turned into four-miles. I realize for a lot of you that is short. Not for me, especially in muddy, rocky, uphill terrain, with altitude as a contributing barrier.
As I was struggling through a large uphill span of our hike, I was noticing all the ways nature mimics life. The trials of that riddled trail were a parable of life. There are times in life when we are sucking air just to survive, and there are times we are enjoying the view.
Struggles are often long and appear as if they will never end. Giving up or giving in becomes an attractive option. Fears are frequent and real. The bends and turns are prone to placing us in barren places rather than beautiful spaces. We have this great hope, though, that a great joy awaits, so we pick ourselves up and continue walking.
When we experience those moments where we catch our breath and enjoy the beauty around us, we appreciate them more because we know the effort and intention it took to get there. The experience gives us a fresh supply of endurance for our trek knowing those encounters are just preludes to something greater.
The walk goes on. We cycle through stages on a spectrum somewhere between worn and wonderful. It is within the worn corners we grow in determination and perseverance. In the wonderful places, we cultivate grateful hearts, and our eyes begin to see the fountains of grace poured into our pilgrimage.
Life is a necessary combination of both, the broken and beautiful so that we remain steadfast with our eye on the ultimate reward ahead-Home.
Yesterday for me, the grand reward was the sight of our car. As we walk the path of our eternal home, though, knowing for certain the joy that awaits us is sustenance for the trails of our hike.
Keep walking friends. If you believe the Bible to be true, there is unimaginable and everlasting gratification at the end of your journey.
Hebrews 12:1~Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
The older I get; it is not about where I get to go, but when I get to be home. It is not about what I can have, but what I can give. It is not about who I have known the longest, but who has walked with me through the most. It is not about who or what is around me, but what is within me. It is not about me at all, but a relationship with the One who gave it all. Thank you, Jesus for saving me. John 3:30~ He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.