Louis spent most of the month of October filling in for a pastor here in Lebanon at a Filipino church. He began his sermon series with a story about Davy. When we are out and about, shopping, at church, at the ministry center, or anywhere, and we are done for the day we turn to Davy and say, “Davy, let’s go home.” And Davy will be excited and reply, “Go home!” Sometimes even with a “Yeah!” which is super adorable from our almost 2-year-old. Then we arrive back to our apartment and it is a 50-50 chance that one of these two things will happen. He will at some point recognize our building and say, “Home!” OR Davy will come inside with and look around with a somewhat disappointed and sad expression and say, “Go home,” meaning we didn’t end up at the right home. What does home mean to him, we wonder? What does it mean to us?
There is a beautiful story told by many Christians of walking into a church for a service and by the end feeling that they have found “home.” I have such a heart for that in a church, the ability to welcome and love someone so instantaneously. I have never once walked into a church and had that feeling, but I hope that each person reading this takes the time to welcome new faces, to show love to those sitting in the services, events, meals, etc. so that we are home to as many as walk in our churches’ doors.
In the same way that I have never felt that a church had that “I’m home!” experience for me, when my parents moved our family to a new house when my siblings and I were young, I distinctly thought that it did not become my home. But the other house hadn’t felt like home. Everywhere it seemed was temporary. In college I felt that the NAU campus was the closest I came to a home, but going back there does not make me feel like a homecoming.
So, as I reflect on this homesickness I have, I hope that Davy also remains sad that this is not quite HOME. Because this earth is not quite home. There are tastes that people get, like that of walking into church, and for me the community of believers I had around me all the time at NAU. I hope that Davy always longs for the home that we have only tasted and imagined and dreamed about. And I pray that the people we love will be there. So, we must keep telling everyone about the hope found in Jesus Christ so that our friends and family here on earth will be our sisters and brothers in Heaven.
Tonight I am feeling this homesickness much more distinctly because as we attended the Filipino church today, Davy knew people’s names, and he played with the women without needing to see if we were still there, and he talked to them, and I was sad that we would be here only one more Sunday because this is our family. And I was sad that we will not be attending our Lebanese church who also has our family. And even in planning our many Sundays hopping around to different churches to share about what God is doing here in Lebanon and to grow our partnerships of spiritual and physical support, we will not be able to see all of our family every day. That is the dream. Every day getting to see our whole family, being able to worship and praise our Lord and Creator all together, not thousands of miles apart from pieces of our family, our body in Christ. And it does feel more and more like we are a body with parts all over, and the separation is painful.
So tonight, with 11 days left in Lebanon, I grieve the loss of new family members while I celebrate those I will get to see in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. At our training back in April there was a very important life lesson that we repeat many times a month to one another:
I pray that when you leave here it hurts.
Because that means you were loved, and you loved well.
And it hurts. It hurts to do what we do. But what better joy is there for us as believers than to see the men and women who we are discipling and evangelizing in heaven? And you will get to heaven and will meet men and women who by your prayers and support of us here in Lebanon have come to Christ.