Fix Your Eyes
Those who leave their homes for the sake of Christ don’t do it because their ties to home are weak. Instead, their ties to their heavenly home, the one Jesus promises, are so much stronger that they are freed to let go of earthly houses, family roots, and worldly goods.
I had some friends who bought a house that needed extensive renovation. While they waited for the work to be completed, they lived in an apartment. They didn’t spend their months in the apartment complaining about how small and inadequate it was for their family. They knew they would soon move into their dream house. The knowledge of the home that awaited them made the months they spent in cramped quarters easy to endure. They are a parable of how we should wait. Fixing our eyes on the home that is to come will help us thrive in this world that is not our home.
Does the fact that we are not yet in our eternal home mean that we shouldn’t care where or how we live? Does it mean that you should stop recycling and resign from your neighborhood association? Not at all. C. S. Lewis presents a very different picture of the sojourner’s mind-set:
If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.1
What Lewis gets at is the truth of Jesus’s words in Matthew 16:25: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” When you know your home is in heaven, you are willing to take more risks in this life. You can make sacrifices on behalf of your neighbor because you’re not obsessed with protecting what is yours.
Waiting for your heavenly home should free you to invite all kinds of people into your earthly home.
Waiting for your heavenly home should free you to invite all kinds of people into your earthly home. You can welcome the poor and the little child without being afraid they will take something or break something. But rather than making you careless and neglectful of your home, a heavenly mind-set should inspire you to make your home welcoming and pleasant for others.
I’ve noticed that the people who tend to be best at welcoming friends and acquaintances into their homes for holidays are those who live in a place where they don’t have extended family. If you live in the city where you grew up and are surrounded by relatives, you probably have family obligations around holidays. If your family eats Christmas Eve dinner at your grandmother’s house and Christmas brunch at your in-laws’, you may not have the freedom to invite along those from your church who don’t have Christmas plans. Yet people who live far from their hometown and family have the opportunity to welcome strangers into their homes on these special days. There’s more room at the table.
Expat communities overseas are great at banding together to celebrate the holidays of their home countries. Americans living everywhere from Scotland to Singapore celebrate Thanksgiving with the closest thing to a turkey they can find. This should be our model as we seek to live as citizens of heaven at home on this earth. We are joined to other Christians by a love for our homeland. We can celebrate in the fellowship of that common citizenship any time two believers are together, not just at holidays. And like expats who welcome locals into their homes to teach them about their homeland’s traditions, we should be eager to bring the lost to our table. The more the merrier.
This article is adapted from Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed.
- What I Learned While Waiting for My Spouse (Betsy Childs Howard)
- The School of Waiting (Betsy Childs Howard)
- 4 Prayers to Pray when You’re Waiting