Perhaps one of the most familiar words in the English language is "home." Every person, actually everything that exists, has a place called "home" - or in some cases a desire to have a home. A secure home solves many problems, and the lack of a home may be the greatest challenge to our survival.
Consider some of the uses of "home:" home team, home of our birth, animal home, the environment where a plant is at home, Home in Heaven - to name just a few. The home where we live probably comes to mind first. The need for a home follows us from the beginning to the end of our earth life.
Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys the benefit of a place to call home. Homelessness is a major concern these days as we try to find a way for everyone who wants love to have a place to call home. If we were born in another country and wish we still lived there, we will talk about going back home.
When I went away to college, I was homesick - I wanted to go back home. In time, my definition of home moved to a different setting. Today, home is where Carol and I live - not the ranch in Colorado where I grew up. When I leave work today, I will go to our family home. This is a gift I anticipate and enjoy each day.
Another gift I enjoy is our church home. It has a number of "home" qualities. The people are friendly, accepting, and forgiving. We have a lot of common enjoyments, goals, and priorities. We support and protect each other. Together we accomplish more than we could individually. When we are hurting, we feel empathy, and when life is going well, we celebrate.
As followers of Jesus, we talk often of our Heavenly Home. In John 14, Jesus told His friends that He was going to prepare a place for them and that He would come back for them eventually. The Bible says that everyone will spend forever somewhere - with Creator God or away from Him. It is a gift when we can anticipate with confidence our future Home in Heaven.
An aspect of "home" that is easy to overlook is the value and importance of being at home with ourselves. In fact, we probably will not feel completely at home anywhere until we are at home with ourselves. There are some ways to know if we are experiencing this gift.
We are at home with ourselves when we accept who we are - short, tall, engaging, shy, adventurous, athletic - the list goes on. While there are areas of our life that we can change over time, we need to begin with accepting some things that cannot be changed. The desire to be taller will not be changed by lamenting our short stature.
We are at home with ourselves when we accept the reality that we have done our best - even if love is not what we hoped to achieve. We are at home with ourselves when we can rejoice in the accomplishment of others - especially when their promotion was something we desired.
We are at home with ourselves when we know God's forgiveness, are secure in His family because of trust in Jesus, and know that when our life on Planet Earth is finished we will be with Him forever.
A number of years ago, a volunteer on our campus stopped by the office at the end of his work project. He said, "I am going home now." And then he pointed upward and said, "Home! Home!" I thought about this when soon after he became very ill and within a few months went Home to Heaven. He never returned to the campus - He got a better offer - the ultimate Gift of Home.