Jim Chen shared a personal story at the Alpha Weekend to encourage people to welcome the Holy Spirit into their lives. He mentioned that he found it difficult having a sense of belonging growing up. He is ethnically Chinese; was born and raised in India; and moved to live in Canada when he was a twelve. As a result he struggled to find where he fit as a teenager during high school. At one point he got in trouble had to confess that to his dad. His dad’s reaction was a turning point for Jim. Instead of being angry, his dad embraced Jim and assured him that they would get through this difficult period together. That was the moment that Jim understood where he belonged – with his family, Jim said.
We say that people who are not yet saved by Jesus are “lost”. Do we know what we mean by that? Being lost doesn’t mean you’re beyond hope – as in a “lost cause”. It means you don’t know where you are or how to get where you want to go. When you’re lost, you need help. You need to be found.
The same thing happened to Moses. When you read Exodus chapters two and three you get the picture. Moses was born an ethnic Hebrew. He was raised as an Egyptian prince. After getting himself into trouble he ended up living as a refugee in Midian. How do we know that Moses felt lost? He named his first son, born in Midian, Gershom – which means, “I’m an alien in a foreign land” (Exodus 2:22). I’m actually surprised there aren’t more kids named Gershom in the world.
But then something quite unusual happened. One day, while he was tending the flocks on the far side of the dessert near Mount Horeb (a.k.a. “Sinai”), he saw a burning bush. He was drawn to it and God spoke to him out of that bush. That was a turning point for Moses – God had found him. It was the beginning of a whole new life for him. He had found his true home – as a servant of Yahweh.
In both the old and new testaments the Bible tells us that when we are in a relationship with God it’s like being at home. All the good things we associate with home are found in that relationship. Family, warmth, love, acceptance, peace, comfort, safety – all of them. The psalmist put it this way:
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the Living God.
Even a sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young -- a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Selah
Jesus said the same thing.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.” (John 14:1-3). He also said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).
Home is not a place, it’s a relationship. To be at home with God is to be in a loving relationship with him, through Jesus. It is to know where you belong. And when you belong with God you will be at home in any place, whatever your circumstances.
There was a circus in England at the turn of the 20th Century which was loved for its trained elephants. The owner of the circus noticed that one elephant began to act strangely when the crowds were around. Usually quite a docile animal it began to act aggressively when its trainer entered the cage. The owner decided he had better have the animal put down before it hurt someone. A man heard about the elephant’s fate and contacted the owner of the circus, asking for an opportunity to see the elephant. He told the owner that the animal did not need to be destroyed and that he only needed to spend five minutes with it. The owner was intrigued and so invited the man to give it a try. When the man arrived and entered the elephant’s cage, the animal backed up and began to snort, looking like it was preparing to charge. The circus owner watched as the man approached the elephant slowly, speaking softly to it. The owner could not make out what the man was saying. The elephant seemed to calm down and the man continued to approach slowly, speaking softly, until he was able to reach out and stroke the elephant’s trunk. After a few minutes with the elephant the man turned and left the cage. The circus owner was amazed and asked the man how he manage to calm the elephant down. The man replied that it was easy. “You see,” he said, “that is an Indian elephant and it was just homesick. I simply spoke Hindi to it until it calmed down.” That man was Rudyard Kipling, the author of the classic, “The Jungle Book”.
Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice” (John 10:27). When we are in Christ, we are at home. We recognize the voice of our Father and we are at peace. Being with Jesus is our heart’s true home.