Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 35, John 14, Proverbs 11, and Ephesians 4

03242014_CPBy Christie Purifoy

I grew up in the Bible-Belt South. I remember Scripture references painted on barn walls, pasted on billboards, printed on bumper stickers. I can still see the embroidered verses that hung, framed, on the walls of my grandmother’s house.

When I read the Bible, it is filtered through so many memories.

Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and I will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Reading these words, I see an image from my first children’s illustrated Bible. I see Jesus, with outstretched hand, ascending into heaven on a cushion of pink-tinted clouds.

Picture and words are so intertwined in my mind that it took me much longer than it should have to recognize the fault line in my memory.

***

Jesus does not speak of preparing a place for us as he floats into the sky. He says these words just before his arrest. He says them just before the cross.

As a child, I imagined Jesus as some sort of celestial carpenter, as if his earthly profession was the shadow of his current task. I imagined Jesus, hammer in hand, building mansions on golden streets.

It seemed so obvious to me back then. I lay in bed with a flashlight and my illustrated Bible and was sure of this: Jesus was making heaven ready.

***

When I was a child, home was an easy concept. Home was my bedroom on Jersey Street. Home was my father and mother, my two younger sisters and my baby brother. Home was the wooden playhouse in our backyard.

Heaven was an easy concept, too. Heaven was my next home. Like my current one, only better. With more gold and fewer bugs. More rainbows and less humidity.

Today, I am a grown woman with children of my own, and home is no longer so easy. No longer so obvious. I have played house in dorm rooms and apartments. I have traveled. I have wandered. I have practiced real homemaking in condominiums and one suburban ranch, and I have recently come home to a farmhouse I hope I never leave.

I think a great deal about homesickness and homecoming. Is the first simply our lot in this life? Is the second only given after death?

In John 14, Jesus says this: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

***

My very own heavenly mansion on a golden street no longer seems like such a prize.

I know now that a life lived alone in a warren of empty rooms is probably the opposite of God’s intentions for us. Surely, the kingdom of heaven looks more like everyone gathered together around a great table, feasting.

If I am honest, the kingdom of heaven probably looks, at least a little bit, like my life right now.

It looks like me and my husband sitting at the table with our four children every night (perhaps minus the complaints about vegetables).

It looks like Sunday mornings when someone places the bread in my hands, looks me in the eye, and says the body of Christ, broken for you.

It looks like the meal I shared with my three dearest friends on Saturday night. We’d each driven hundreds of miles to see each other face to face and raise forks of spaghetti and marinara. We said goodbye shortly after, and I am not sure what I feel this crazy Monday morning, but Saturday night? I know I felt utterly, completely at home.

***

Because Christ was broken for us, Christ is with us now. And we are home. We have arrived, and we are, always, arriving. Every day is a homecoming.

The work of preparation Jesus spoke of, the great work that would prepare our home, has been accomplished. It was accomplished on the cross. The words “It is finished” reach so much farther than I ever realized. So high. So deep. So far. So wide. It is finished, and we are reconciled, and there is nothing to stop us from living at home with God.

“Abide in my love,” Jesus says in the very next chapter of John (John 15:9).

Jesus has made that possible. His death was the seed and his resurrection the shoot of a great vine. Planted two thousand years ago, that vine has grown larger and larger. It yet grows, like a powerful story that has not reached its conclusion. But we do have a home. A real home. A true home.

Our home is Love.

image by permission – Kelli Campbell

Today’s Question: How does it change things, knowing that “there is nothing to stop us from living at home with God”?

ChristieP_200Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Chicago. She recently traded reading lists and classrooms for a vegetable garden and a henhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. Now she writes stories at an old desk in the parlor of a Victorian farmhouse called Maplehurst. When the noise of her four young children makes writing impossible, she tends zucchini and tomatoes her children will later refuse to eat. The zucchini-loving chickens are perfectly happy with this arrangement.

The chickens move fast and the baby crawls faster, but Christie is always watching for the beauty, mystery and wonder that lie beneath it all. When she finds it, she shares it at ChristiePurifoy.com.

Related posts:

Words Are Not Mere Words, You Know - 2 Timothy 2
God is in the Mess - Genesis 38
When God is Absent - Psalm 22
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8 Comments

  1. oh yes! We are already dwelling in the Kingdom of God on Earth! I, too, sometimes, let myself experience it in the presence of friends, family, and even alone. I look at those times as “little perfect islands of time” . . .

    My dad once knew a young man, and upon their last visit, my dad lamented that he was sorry their visit was short and over. The young man recited, “when we’ve been their 10 thousand years, bright shining as the sun. We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun”. That young man was killed in an accident soon after. I know when my dad passed away years later, Miles was one there waiting to greet him. No “island”, but forever . . .

    Prayers, please. This has been on my heart. Christmas afternoon was an “island” with a cousin and her husband. But, they are atheists. I would so love to continue enjoying their presence on earth and in heaven.

  2. This concept so resonates with me this morning, Christie. And actually all through this year, God has given me an intense longing for home. I was talking with my 12-year-old daughter yesterday about why we cry every time our family that lives a state away leaves. Seems we know those glimmers of heavenly home when we’re together, and then we long for that again. Even the sweet holds an ache because this is not the end. Thank you, friend. Your writing brings me closer to Jesus.

  3. I am a friend of Kelli’s and found this very interesting as it contrasts with what The Lord just showed me, but yet they fit. Having so many losses in this life, 2 Corinthians 5 resonates with me- we groan for the day when “what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”. I say we are on deployment in this world because we are still living by faith and not sight. One day we will truly see and touch what we hope for. Thank you for the reminder to look for it even now by abiding in His love.

  4. Larry Ebaugh · March 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm · Reply

    Yes, Christie, I think you’ve nailed it. The home that Christ is building for us is a spiritual home. A home where we feel loved by none other than God Himself . . .

  5. “Because Christ was broken for us, Christ is with us now. And we are home. We have arrived, and we are, always, arriving. Every day is a homecoming.”

    Loved this.

  6. Dan McDonald · March 24, 2014 at 10:43 am · Reply

    Psalm 122 is a good Psalm to add to this. Jerusalem is a compact city (Psalm 122:3) where the tribes go up. It is full of the redeemed delighting in God’s goodness. Especially liked your pointing out that he said this not in the ascension but before being arrested and how so much of this was accomplished at the cross. Thank you.

  7. The concept of “home” has changed much for me since becoming an ever-moving military wife. Your words here—that “Christ is with us now. And we are home.”—resonate more than I can say. Home used to be a place, now it is a togetherness: with family, with friends, most of all with Christ. Thanks for this fantastic reminder and for the artful way you articulate it. (As always!)

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