“I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:14
The above verse is so very personal to me. Because it embodies what was most important to me just about three years ago. Within this verse, I see my two most pressing prayer concerns at that time… One, I wanted to find God, with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind. And the other was like it, with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind, I wanted to return to my homeland. I wanted these two things desperately, and now that God has answered both prayers, I believe I know why I sought them so frantically. Because on a deeper level, it wasn’t just my home or the LORD that I was seeking. It was safety. And so naturally, I longed to return to the place in which I first felt safe. A child first feels safe in the arms of her mother or at her daddy’s knees. And so, it was that nest of security that I sought… the nest from which I jumped eighteen years earlier in an effort to spread my wings. And after so long away, it was my homeland I wanted. Because absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? And because there, I would find those I loved, and who loved me back unconditionally. It was security of a homeland I was eager to find.
My mother-in-law made a remark just a week or so ago, and I find it to be true. She said that God has plans for me, but He put me where I would feel secure. And there’s no place like home, right? Wasn’t it Dorothy who sought what was beyond the rainbow, and in the end, she just wanted to go back home. And isn’t it said, “Home is where your heart is.” Don’t we see that cross-stitched on pillows adorning comfy couches in homes across our land? Yes, when you leave your home searching for the rainbow, and end up finding not gold as promised, but an empty pot, you tend to want to go back to where you started. Familiarity beckons, and what’s known calls, and comfort draws you… back to the place from which you were carried away captive… back from the world that didn’t fulfill as you so hoped.
Since coming home, I’ve learned a lot about God. More so than I have in my entire life. And the biggest lesson I have learned is that there’s a hole in your heart that can never be filled on this side of eternity. Some refer to it as a God-sized hole, that only He can fill. And it’s from experience that I believe that. Because it was only by my spending so many years away from home, and my longing for it desperately, that I learned of its inadequacy. If God brought me back too soon, I wouldn’t have realized it. And if He never brought me back at all, why, my homeland would still be that elusive promised land to me. It would still be a plot of soil that I set my every hope and dream upon… it would still be Virginia that I considered my real home today. And not Him, who is my ultimate home and my final destination.
But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:16
I’ve been home for just over two and a half years now. And the crazy thing is… home no longer feels like home to me. The oddest thing is that what I placed all my hopes on didn’t produce what I expected. And so, that spurned on my search for God all the more… here in my hometown. And it’s here that I found God… where I least expected to find Him. And what He’s revealing to me is that here will never be enough. And it doesn’t matter where here happens to be. Because it’s not there… with Him. He is the only thing that can fulfill and satisfy the deep unrest of my soul. The truth is, I don’t think I’ll ever feel fully satisfied until that Day, when I am in fact somewhere over the rainbow and in His very presence. Because what I know now is that He is home. It’s not here, in Virginia, but it’s there… with Him.
I was searching for security. I wanted a refuge. And so, I thought home. But Virginia can’t help me with that. Because it’s only Him… the eternal God is my refuge. It’s His arms that are everlasting (Deuteronomy 33:27). And so now, it’s Him that I seek… because He feels like home to me.
One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life… Psalm 27:4