“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High

Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

Where is home? That is a hard question for a “military brat.” Most often I told people I was from California; that is where we always went when my dad had leave. We visited my grandparents there and I felt at home in their home. My grandpa used to come into the kitchen while I was eating a snack or a meal and teasingly say, “Did I take you to raise?” meaning, am I feeding you now, too? Why don’t you just move in, then?

I would smile and say, “Yep, Grandpa!”

I was home. He loved me and would do anything to “take me to raise.” My parents and my brother seemed equally at ease there. At my grandparent’s house we felt loved; we understood the rules, spoken and unspoken; and we were able to rest there—far from the worries of the world. The Californian culture felt normal to us. The way people spoke and interacted with one another felt natural. Everywhere else felt a bit strange. It made sense to call that place home.

In 2007 both my grandparents passed away, within 6 months of one another. After my grandmother’s passing, home seemed sad. But after my grandfather’s passing, it was no longer home. Ever since, I have been pondering the question, “where is home?”

I quickly moved to the idea of “home” being among the people who love and accept one another. I re-calculated my life in this new idea with my immediate family in the position of “home.” This wasn’t hard. Physical places never meant as much to me as the people who lived there. It made sense. Wherever we traveled around the world, we carved out our own little space. A few things were never lost in a move: love, care, shared experiences, etc. When I was far away from my family, “home” was where ever they lived. When I married Thomas and we began our own family, “home” transferred to him.

I decided in my heart that what made California “home” was really just my grandparents. The culture and the scenery didn’t mean much without them there. Clearly, I only felt at home in California because they loved me so well. In some ways, I took their love for granted. I thought it would always be right there in Modesto, California for me to go back to.

My recent “loss of home” in the death of my grandparents exemplifies the main difficulty in letting the people we love be “home.” There is no permanent place of residence. People cannot be stable or constant forever. Not just because of death, but because of misunderstanding, or disappointment, or difference of opinion. There is just no security in a home made of flesh.

I did not let my thoughts drift to the downfalls of making people “home,” though, until just recently. I was reading Psalm 91 to my children and something spoke to me. I am very familiar with the Psalm. I had memorized it as a child, and I ponder over it and pray parts of it so often, it feels like it is a part of me. Surprisingly, one of the themes of the Psalm is making the Lord God our dwelling place, or our “home”! I had not seen that in the Psalm before. Sure I was well versed in the ideas that this place is not our home; that we are strangers in a strange land; but somehow that did not play out in my everyday life. It was ethereal or religious ideology. Suddenly, I longed to know what it meant to make God my “home,” my dwelling place.

I prayed that night, “Please show me what it means to dwell in you, Lord.” And over the past few months the idea makes more sense almost daily! He is stable; He never changes; He never leaves me; He is faithful to His promises; I can sit in His presence and know who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I am going. If I see myself through Him, as a product of His loving kindness, then I am confident in the tasks I have before me. If I seek to make my home in Him more beautiful, then I am doing eternal work that cannot be undone. It is the only relationship that will not falter, and all my other relationships are better when I find myself at home in Him. I am better when I come from Him than when I come from anywhere else.

This insight is new, yet there is a familiarity to it, like it is actually something God has been helping me learn my whole life. I have caught glimpses of the lesson here and there, but I see it most clearly now. That gives me the opportunity to actively choose God as my permanent residence. Choosing to be from God colors everything I do. He defines how I act and react to my surroundings just like any culture would define anyone. If I make Him my dwelling place, then my responses originate from Him. I think that security is the first and most underlying result of living in Him. Security allows me to stand in greater confidence, peace, hope, and an ability to love. When I am dissatisfied with this world, I will not despair, because it is not my home. I can look at this world objectively and respond in love rather than hurt. This world and the people in it are not accountable for my well being. They may not respond in Him, but I can.

My ability to make a choice to dwell in God became amazingly real when I decided to open a “Facebook” account on September 26th, 2009. Looking through my email later that day caused me to catch my breath. I had over 60 messages declaring people as my friends, people I had not heard from in ten to fifteen years. More announcements came by the scores every hour after that for a few days. I truly had this overwhelming sense of “I’m home!” rush over me, like a little sliver of heaven was thrust in my direction. I sincerely believe I felt a bit of what stepping into eternity in Christ must be like: to suddenly see the great cloud of witnesses and know I am home. Then I reconsidered. Heaven may be like opening a “Facebook” account for the first time, seeing everyone you have missed and have not spoken to for many years, but the real coming home will be Jesus, seeing His dear precious face and hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And that is what I choose. I choose to be from Him so that I may always go home to Him.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9

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    Meg said...

    Hi, Beth. Thanks for friending me on Facebook. Any friend of Sam and Cindy's is a friend of mine.

    I loved your list of favorite books. Many of your favorites are mine, too. You just might have inspired me to post my own list soon.

    See ya around!
    Meg, a fellow Californian and book lover

  1. ... on October 16, 2009 at 6:42 AM  
  2. ceciliabrie said...

    I miss being "at home" in the same place as you, Bethie! I've rarely experienced the same over-the-kitchen-counter exhortation and encouragement sessions anywhere else!

  3. ... on October 24, 2009 at 7:04 PM  
  4. Beth said...

    Thanks for your comments!

    Meg--I look forward to reading your list! I'm glad to be your friend!

    Brie--I miss you, too. I hope we can visit again, soon. Let me know when you're here in SA. I can't wait to get to know your dh better.

  5. ... on November 6, 2009 at 4:16 PM  
  6. Jennifer said...

    Good post. Interesting FB analogy...I'll have to give that some thought. I've been thinking a lot recently about what "home" means to me. I'm still looking for that answer, and I'm glad you've found it. But like you, I want, at the end of my life, to feel that it's been a job well done.

  7. ... on November 14, 2009 at 11:21 AM  
  8. Beth said...

    Jennifer--True, true!!! A job well done means it's worth it! :) Let me know your thoughts as you think them on this!

  9. ... on November 20, 2009 at 6:13 PM