For many years Libbie and I had a familiar holiday routine; Thanksgiving was in Atlanta, with her folks, and Christmas was in Texas with mine. Every year was a little different but we usually drove all of one day. There were food stops, and fuel stops and some just to walk around. But there was always an urgency to get back on the road again and on the way "home." As the children grew up the routine changed. In 2009 it changed even more with the loss of Mom. In January of 2019 we lost Dad. The "home" I thought of throughout most of my life is gone.
A country song describes the scene of a homeless man who is sleeping out in the inclement weather behind some garbage cans. A fellow wakes up the old-timer to assist him and is surprisingly chastised.
"I just climbed out of a cottonwood tree,
I was runin' from some honey bees,
Drip dryin' in the summer breeze,
After jumpin' into Calico creek!
I was walkin' down an old dirt road,
Past a field of hay that had just been mowed,
Man I wish you'd just left me alone!
Cause I was almost home."
It becomes clear that while the old man was dreaming of his childhood experiences, there is also a double meaning in the song. In the final lines it's clear that the old man had also been talking about his nearing death.
Late in Paul's life he said he was ready to go home, "having a desire to depart and to be with Christ," (Phil. 1:23), "and the time of my departure is at hand" (2 Tim. 4:6). He was not thinking of Jerusalem. He was not planning a trip back to Tarsus. He wanted to go "home." He wanted to be where God lived, where Jesus lived. Even though he had never lived there, it was where he wanted to be, because of who was there.
I never lived in the last house where Mom and Dad lived. It wasn't the "house" that I had an interest in. It's still standing and yet I have absolutely no desire to be there. In contrast, my family could be gathering in a tent or a motel in Texas, Minnesota or Zimbabwe, and that would be the place I would want to go; like the burning bush, the "place" is made holy because of the "presence." To be home with God is not about "place," it is about "people." And doesn't that make the Lord's words even more wonderful? "...that where I am, you may be also..." (Jn. 14:3)!
- Tim Orbison