In this abiding series, each post will be framed as an email correspondence to a friend who is seeking to get ‘more’ out of his or her faith. My hope is that by exploring this topic as a conversation, you will resonate with the message as deeply as if it were a letter addressed to you.
To: Friend Seeking More from Faith
From: Doug Nuenke
Subject: The Hunger for Home
Hello my friend,
Home is a word with a thousand meanings. In the movies, it is the smell of a home cooked meal, people gathered around a dinner table, or a military vet coming out of a plane to a throng of friends welcoming him home. Home can be a feeling or an address. For some, home brings up bad memories and painful feelings. But even the difficult parts of our story can push us toward Jesus, alerting us to a longing only He can fill.
I grew up not having a place I could call home. My family always had a house and a place to lay our heads at night, but we moved every few years. I was always the new kid at school, not knowing where to sit in the cafeteria at lunchtime. I often felt unknown and alone.
During those years, when people asked me where home was, I’d pause and think to myself, “I have no idea!” I felt I was living without roots.
I’ve noticed that the loneliness I felt in my transient upbringing is prevalent in our culture today, even for those who stay in one place. Statistics show that despite the increase in social media use, the number of people experiencing loneliness continues to rise.
Our devices might offer increased relational visibility, but that doesn’t always lead to relational connection. We might be seen on social media, but that doesn’t mean we are known and beloved.
I believe we are all designed with a deep hunger for belonging, a place our souls find intimate connection. As we’ve discussed, the ultimate source of intimate and grace-filled connection is offered by God. Our place of belonging is abiding in His Son Jesus.
In the last supper with His followers, Jesus spoke these words of invitation,
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me… I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love” (John 15:4, 9 MSG).
As we abide in Christ, we make our home in his love. It is the single place, with the single person, who will not change.
You mentioned in your last email that you’ve noticed friends pursuing home in empty places: material belongings, sexual connection, food, career. Although these things are not inherently bad, they cannot satiate a hunger for belonging that was designed by God to be filled in God.
When I look back on my painful associations with ‘home,’ I realize that it was those experiences that set me up to meet Jesus. It was my hunger for home that propelled me to make my home in Him.
Any ideal of home we can imagine is only a shadow of what God longs for in His relationship with us. When we abide in Christ, we discover the fullness of His love for us. Our deepest experience of home is found in His embrace and companionship.