What is "HOME" to you?

My word for this year is “HOME.” It’s a word I see all the time, and it’s an issue I’ve struggled with for many years. By the age of thirty, I had somewhere around twenty-seven addresses I had called home at some point. I moved around quite a bit as a young girl, but I moved even more as a young adult. I had an itch about moving and found it hard to stay in one place for very long. Our current home has been a place I’ve lived longer than anywhere else. We are going on fourteen years this year, and to be honest, it’s been hard for me to stay in one place for so long. Ask my husband…I’ve been driving him crazy about moving for years.

Some who move around a lot yearn for roots and consistency. However, I, on the other hand, continue to keep a sort of detachment to my home as if holding on too tightly is a bad thing. I can’t figure it out exactly, but I know the Lord is going to do a work on my heart this year as it relates to “HOME.”

When you hear the word “HOME” what comes to mind? For some, significant memories flood in. For others, home wasn’t a safe place. Some have or had a great home life while others struggle with dysfunction. Some of you have a hometown. Some of you still have childhood homes you return to year after year. For others, you have vacation homes—places to retreat to. For others, you’ve downsized your home and now are living out your years in a retirement home.
“HOME” means many things to different people.

As I have reflected on this word the past couple of weeks, the Holy Spirit has been speaking this…

Are you looking for comfort in your home or are you willing to sacrifice comfort for now for Me? One day, you’ll be more comfortable than you can imagine and you’ll have your forever home.

These aren’t the words HGTV and its sponsors want to hear. We are bombarded these days with beautiful décor and DIY projects. We stuff our houses full, then go through seasons of “cleaning out” only to re-decorate or renovate. Over and over. Americans spent approximately $326 billion on home renovations and repairs in 2015 and that number is projected to climb to $402 billion in 2019. Upgrades and comfort are big money makers in this industry. Instagram accounts dedicated to beautiful houses, rooms, and décor are plentiful.

To those with the ability to have options, we choose homes in safe neighborhoods with conveniences. Others might choose homes with a lot of land so they don’t have to deal with city noise or neighbors. Some people can work from home and choose beautiful places and spaces. There are others who are merely content to have a roof over their heads but cannot wait for the day when they can move to a safer home. And even many who have no home to call their own.

I had many houses that I lived in. Some I liked and some I didn’t. Some were in desirable neighborhoods while others were not. I have no hometown nor do I have a childhood home to return to. Last October, we drove my children past the house I lived in from the third grade through high school. I’m not sure I have ever seen such wide-eyed looks on their faces.

I yearn for “HOME” yet I fight against it at the same time. My children have only known the home we currently live in, but I constantly battle the urge to move. As someone who has never had roots, it might make sense I’d want them to have roots. God has kept us in this house (despite our attempts to sell it) for some unknown reason. Many pages in my prayer journal have taken up the issue with God about our house. I laugh at some of the things I’ve written and asked, and praise Him for not answering most of my requests relating to moving. My biggest request of all is that God will help me be content with “HOME” as He defines it for me.

“HOME” isn’t just about a building either. My church’s slogan is “A church to call home.” Some say, “Home is where the heart is.” Others simply call a state “Home.” Home is personal.

The Holy Spirit has also been burdening my heart with this question…

Are you using your home as an escape or an invitation?

This convicts me to the core. I’ve heard from countless numbers of people who have relocated to my part of the world who have said, “I’ve been invited by people to their churches but never into their homes.” I think the same can be true about meeting someone for coffee at a coffeehouse. Our meeting spaces have become public places where it is hard to have a private conversation or not be distracted by other things and people. It’s great to invite someone to church, but it shouldn’t be the initial invite. A recent conversation I had with a friend about an idea I have swirling in my head got us on this topic. She said, “By inviting someone to church rather than into our homes, we are basically saying there’s something wrong with them before we even get to know them.” I couldn’t agree more. I’ll be saying more about where this is leading me soon.

Your home should be a safe place, but it should also serve as a safe place for others. It should be a gathering place (not the local trendy restaurant or coffeehouse) reserved not only for holidays but for every day. Jesus went into the homes of many different people, but he didn’t have a home of his own here on earth (Matthew 8:20). He had nothing holding him back and nothing he was clinging onto that kept him in one place for very long. His focus was always on His Father because Jesus knew God was holding his place in heaven. While I am thankful for the blessing of a home, I never want this home to be my focus. I want my focus to be on eternity, and I want to help as many people as I can reside in our heavenly homes one day.

I know “HOME” is my word for the year and not yours, but I want to encourage each of you to examine your homes. What do they mean and represent to you? What’s taking place inside of your walls? Who are you inviting in?

This is our temporary home, and I yearn for the comforts and promises of heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8)…I really do. But for now, God has me here in this home and He’s attempting to teach me something this year. His lessons aren’t always without pain or suffering, but they are also filled with blessing, surprises, adventure, and miracles. Whatever your word is for the year, I pray it’s a year filled with drawing close to Him.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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