Monday, November 16, 2015

We're Almost Home!

"And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; 
and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 
 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, 
behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 
 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven."
Acts 1:9-11
(KJV)

I have often shared that while I was growing up, we moved a lot.
Not even your normal "a lot".
Somewhere around the tune of 45 and upward "a lot".

But regardless what our street/mailing address was,
and no matter how long we stayed in that one spot,
(usually no where near long enough to allow any grass to grow under our feet),
as long as my family and I lived there,
that address was home.

Moving around a lot lent itself to fostering deep-seated, hard-to-overcome,
much-lessened-but-somewhat-still-lingering insecurities deep in the heart of me.
Plain and simple, I do not like to move, and I dodge change like I would avoid the plague.

I walked into marriage at age 21, by then living on my own and desperately longing for constancy.

Praise the Lord above, I married one of the most even-keeled,
steady, consistent, stable, stay-put men the dear Lord ever created.
Praise Jesus, my husband does not like to move.
Once we get somewhere, he is settled.
He is a very calm man, not given to frenzy or emotion.
His strength and solidity grounds me and is like the Rock of Gibraltar.
Over the course of our so-far 27 years of marriage,
(I am praying and believing God for at least 27 more, please dear Lord?),
his gentle strength has been a soothing balm to not only me, but to my entire family.

God blessing me to walk through life hand-in-hand with Kevin is one of the sweetest,
most precious things He could ever bestow, and I will never cease to praise Him for this life and its many, many blessings.

We have lived in our current home for the past soon-to-be 14 years....
by far, my longest span of staying put at one address.
Zach was just a baby...just a few days past 11 months...when we moved here.
Oh, how I miss those baby days!

Time marches on.
Life has happened.
It has evolved, and it is much different in untold ways for us now than it was then.

Things have changed in our neighborhood, too.
New homes have been built, trees have been planted, and a church building was erected on what used to be empty land with lots of trees right next door to our house.

Other things have stayed the same.
One of the constants that remain is a certain feeling I get right after we turn on to our street.
As you look ahead, you can see only a limited distance in front of you,
because almost immediately, there is a bend in the road.


I feel a sense of comfort when I see that bend, 
because I know that just beyond it is....HOME.
I know that, even though I can't see our little tan house with the green shutters,
it sits, faithful and steadfast, just around that bend.

As we drive on, sure enough, after we round that little curve in the road,
our eyes are instantly drawn to the left, as we search for the place we'd rather be than anywhere else on earth.


And there it is....
calling to us....
tugging at our heartstrings....
tempting us to drive a little faster to get there sooner.

Our house is not huge.
It measures, oh, somewhere around 1200 square feet.
It is the perfect size for the three of us...actually a bit larger than what we really need.
Our house is not fancy.
I wouldn't want it to be.
Because fancy and me...well, we're sort of like oil and water...
we just don't mix or belong in the same sentence.
I don't long for anything more than what God has given us...
except for more time of exactly what we have.
Oh, how I do love life!
 I pray every day that God will extend it to us as long as possible.

But, all the while I am praying, I know in my heart that even when that moment does come for the fragile flicker of my life's candle to be extinguished,
the end here will only be the beginning there.

As much as I love life...and home down here, I realize that one day, all of these scenes will end,
and the curtain will close.

This body I live in is aging.
It seems like new aches and pains and issues develop on a steady basis.
Sometimes, it feels like I go from one health concern to the next, with not much reprieve in between.
I am not complaining.
I am so grateful for every breath of life, and every single moment is a Divine gift.

We know that when we are born we will someday die.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment..."
Hebrews 9:27

As Mom used to often tell me,
"None of us came here to stay always."

We know that as we age, the outward shell that harbors our eternal soul will deteriorate.
"...though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."
2 Corinthians 4:16

We know that our homes, built of wood, brick, concrete, and stone, will one day crumble. 

What now is....what now seems so permanent in this life...what feels like home to us, 
will someday become mere memories of the way things used to be.
Naught of earth is lasting.

"Time is filled with swift transition,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God's unchanging hand."
Jennie Wilson

I deeply appreciate our house, but what makes our house home to me is still the same as it was during my childhood.
Home is the people I love...the ones who live here with me.
Whatever the building in which we live, it is only a shell.

As much as I cherish our earthly home,
and as much as I treasure every moment of this life,
I feel a down-deep conviction that this world is not my true home.

All of this leads me to the same exact conclusion to which C. S. Lewis came,
and I quote...

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, 
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Tonight, we came home after a family outing, and as we looked ahead of us,
there were dense patches of fog....so thick that it was hard to see what was approaching.
Living in the country, we see a lot of wildlife, especially deer,
and we always have to be vigilant, even on clear nights with no fog,
as so often, they are standing by the road, ready to leap.

The patches of fog continued for most of the 40 some mile drive home,
but when we reached our little town and turned on to our road, 
the fog had lifted, and after we passed that familiar bend,
I did something I don't ever remember doing before.
It was completely spontaneous.
Unplanned.
Unrehearsed.
From my lips there arose an audible sigh of relief.
I was tired, and I knew that just ahead stood the place we most wanted to be.

There stood home.

Driving in that fog got me to thinking about life.

The future is so uncertain...so unclear...so foggy.
It is hard to see in front of us.
Every step we take is by faith, and often, we have to press forward,
even though the visibility is so limited.

What keeps us going, anyhow?
What gives us the fortitude to keep walking, even when we have no clarity of direction?
How do we find courage to take another step when the fog is so thick and the sky is so dark?

We keep pressing on because we have been given a promise.
We keep putting one foot in front of the other because we know something is waiting for us.
We keep persevering because we know deep in our hearts that we are going home.

"In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. 
I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; 
that where I am, there ye may be also."
John 14:3

Jesus Himself is there, now preparing a place for you...and for me!
An eternal home.
It is a beautiful place of peace...and rest...and comfort...and welcome.
It is never-ending.
It is our forever home.

"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, 
we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
2 Corinthians 5:1

Oh, glory to God!
A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,
that Jesus Himself has gone before us to prepare!

In case anyone has failed to notice, the world around us is getting darker.
Just take a peek.
It doesn't take long to figure it out.
As blessed as this Christian life is, it is hard to maintain hope.

As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19,
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

But, you see, my friend, it is not in this life only that we have hope in Christ.
This life, along with the hope we have in it while living for Jesus, is temporary.
But, we have something more...something that extends beyond this mortal engagement.

We have hope of that building of God, not made with human hands, eternal in the heavens,
never to be destroyed,
never to be taken away from us,
never to end!

Our hope in Christ doesn't end when we draw our last breath.
That hope extends through all eternity, because of Jesus' redemptive work on the cross.
Thank you, Jesus!

The promise He made in John 14:2-3 is two-fold.
He not only said He would go away and prepare a place for us,
but He promised that He would come again and receive us unto Himself, 
so we could be where He is!!

Forever.

The signs of His soon coming are everywhere we look.
Prophecies are being fulfilled so blatantly and at such breakneck speed we are foolish to ignore them.

But, this is no reason for us, as Christians, to be alarmed.
It should invoke no fear!

For Jesus said,
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; 
for your redemption draweth nigh."
Luke 21:28

Just as Kevin's, Zachary's, and my heart leap for joy as we round that bend in our road,
and we catch the first glimpse of home,
you and I should know that we, too, can rejoice to know that just around the bend,
shine the lights of our eternal home!

I heard the most meaningful song today by the Inspirations called "It's Not Long Until Forever".
I have loved the Inspirations since my growing up years, and especially after attending one of their live concerts at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio back in the early 80's.

I was crocheting in the car as Kevin and Zach did some Christmas shopping today when I heard this song, and the tears flowed freely down my cheeks as I listened to the words.

If video doesn't load, click here.

I do hope you will take the time to listen to it all.
It takes less than four minutes.
I trust it will bless you as much as it encouraged me.

"It's Not Long Until Forever".
Praise Jesus!
It won't be long until He comes to receive us unto Himself,
that where He is, there we can be also!
And then will arise from each one of our grateful lips an instinctive, irrepressible sigh,
as we hear those golden gates click behind our weary heels,
and we know that our "forever" has begun, and we are, at last, home!

Be encouraged, my dear friend.
Keep your eyes fixed on HIM, not on the darkness!

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, 
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; 
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2

Force yourself to elevate your sights above the terror, violence, confusion, and evils of this world,
and remind yourself that this is not forever, and it won't be long until we reach our eternal home,
where we will never have to deal with any of this ever again.

Many relatives, friends, and dear loved ones have already gone before us
and have reached that home of eternal rest.
They have laid claim to their mansion that Jesus prepared for them, 
and they are now numbered with those who have overcome and are a part of that great cloud of witnesses.

Look up, and know that Jesus is soon coming to take all of us home!

"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 4:17

It's not long until forever!
 Praise God, we are almost home!
Home lies just around the bend.

"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen
Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
Revelation 22:21

Yes!
Lord Jesus, even so, come!

34 comments:

  1. such a beautiful, encouraging post. love you my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ever so much, my dear, sweet friend. Love and appreciate you so much!!

      Delete
  2. What a precious post! I love the way you wove Scripture into every section....I was right there with you...longing for home...your earthly home looks so welcoming, but it's only a foretaste of our eternal home with our Abba Daddy...many blessings to you ❤️

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Beth! Thank you ever so much for your dear, encouraging words! It is always such a blessing when you stop by here. I look forward to being in that eternal home with you someday, my friend! God bless and encourage your dear heart!

      Delete
  3. Won't it be wonderful there? Having no burdens to bear! Joyously singing with heart bells all ringing. Won't it be wonderful there?! Just reading your post had me bellowing that out in my heart! Your home and flowers are beautiful too. God bless you with 27 more wonderful years with your beloved and may you never have to move again until the Lord calls us to that heavenly home. ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, praise God! YES, I love that dear, old song, too! Thank you for your precious words and encouragement, dear Nannette!! You are such a blessing to me on my Christian journey. It just means so much when you come by or when I get your posts in my inbox! Looking forward to sharing that wonderful eternal home with you some, glad day, dear friend. Thank you ever so much for your prayers and kind words.

      Delete
  4. Cheryl, I love how you blended the message of the relief and comfort of getting to our earthly homes with the hope and joy of our eternal homes in Christ. Such a beautiful message friend. Love your beautiful flower garden. Have a great week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so very, very much, dear, sweet Wanda! What a blessing your precious words were to me tonight. God knows just when we need encouragement, and He often sends it through you. Sending you much love and gratitude and trusting Jesus to bless you abundantly! :)

      Delete
  5. Hi Cheryl! What a beautiful study on 'home'. I know I feel the same way about my house. It's the place where I can just relax and be myself. No pressure, shelter, a place of acceptance and love. Just like my heavenly home.
    I really enjoyed seeing the photo of your house, and your 'bend in the road'. What meaning there is in 'home'. I wish you many more years of happiness and peace in your home, until God calls you to His.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, dear friend, all these things are home to me! Thank you for your sweet words and kind thoughts and prayers for us! You are a precious, consistent blessing to me....both here and at your own, dear blog. Blessings to you, Ceil!

      Delete
  6. Cheryl, I like so many things about this message. First thank you for sharing your past with all the moves and how that made you feel, I so appreciate your vulnerability and maybe that's why this message was so dear to me. I'm a homebody, always have been, and tried to place myself in your situation as a child. Then to read about your rock-steady man. What a gift from God. Your home is gorgeous and you tie it to the eternal very well. It touches me as today, I am praying and reaching out to my girlfriend who just lost her husband. We are not here forever and your words are very real to me thinking of her right now. God bless you and your family (and your home.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your dear, sweet visit, encouragement, and kind words, dear Mary!! So very thankful to see that you had stopped by...you always bless me so much! Oh, your dear friend! I do trust Jesus to hold her extra close and comfort her grieving heart. She is so blessed to have you there to walk through her heartache with her! I can only imagine how much it means to her to have you in her life. I remember how lost my precious mother was after Dad passed away. So thankful God is near to the broken-hearted. Sending you and your friend much love and many hugs!

      Delete
  7. My darling, I love this post so much, your family, your home ( I think it to be wonderful, filled with your love ) and the message of Faith with which you end it, to come here means to hearten my soul, always, bless you !

    With the deepest gratitude I wish you a most beautiful new week
    Dany

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Dany! Thank God for you and your precious visit! I trust God to bless you abundantly for being so kind and for always bringing such encouragement to my day! Sending you lots of love and many hugs across the many miles! :)

      Delete
  8. My dear, sweet friend, what a heart-warming and oh-so-precious post! First of all, I am ever so excited for you and this new chapter in your life.

    Secondly, what a beautful message you have shared. When we get to heaven, our real home, what a joy that will be! Thank you for the sweet encouragement. Love and hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, thank you ever so much for your sweet words, dear Stephanie! So very, very thankful for you and the blessing you are to me. :) May the dear Lord bless you in a big and special way! Sending you much love and many hugs, too!!

      Delete
  9. Cheryl, What a beautiful post! Your wisdom, insights and encouragements brought such edification, peace and comfort. I love how what you said about our "forever home". So often I hear people refer to their own homes on earth as a forever home, but indeed, our forever home is the mansion that Jesus is lovingly preparing for us.

    I think too often because I can't "see around the bend" I forget about my forever home, and all that God has planned for me. "Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has planned for those who love Him."

    I was always think of the picture of the bend in the road that you shared and think of my forever home. :-)

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart so that ours would be encouraged.

    God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww...dear Karen! I shared your comments with Zach, because he is the one who took the picture of the bend in our road. I am so thankful to know that the photo will make you think of your forever home! Oh, that just blesses me so much, and it was such a blessing to him, too! I can't thank you enough for your sweet visit and your consistent encouragement. So grateful to walk this blogging path with you, sweet friend. :)

      Delete
  10. A warm reminder. It's so easy to get caught up with the treasures that can be measured by our senses. Home is home because of the love we share. When God comes first the home and our hearts are blessed. May He be first in all facets of my life... and the sleep will be sweet, but not as sweet as the rest when we get to our true home.

    Always get a boost in my spirit here, sister. Blessings to you and yours and where ever you lay your heads at night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, brother, for your kind words and encouragement. You are a blessing to us all, and I trust God to bless you abundantly, in return.

      Delete
  11. It is difficult to be uprooted and moved to a new location as we have done a few times, but home is where the heart is and our hearts now look toward heaven. Thank you for sharing this lovely post about home with us here at Tell me a Story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and I am finding more and more that where my heart is...is in working for Jesus along with my little family, regardless where we happen to be. True contentment indeed. Thank you ever so much for your kind visit, Hazel. God bless you abundantly! :)

      Delete
  12. HOME... where we get to see our God and Father and never need anything more.
    While we wait we must be God's hands and feet to bring as many as we can into Heaven our home for God is in need of many more labourers.
    Many thanks Cheryl, for sharing this thought provoking post with us.
    Have a super blessed day!
    Love

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reading your encouraging words made me think of how it always felt to go home to see Mom and Dad. The welcome I received was a guaranteed thing, and no matter what they were going through, they were genuinely happy to see me and would drop anything else to make that abundantly clear. One day, we will be welcomed into glory where we will stay forever with Him! What a welcome that will be!!! So happy you stopped by, sweet friend. Sending you much love from the USA!!!

      Delete
  13. Thank you for your beautiful words about home. What a joy to know that home is where your family is but also that we will be called to a Heavenly home some day that will be better than we ever imagined! Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, amen, dear sister! What a day that will be for all of us! It was so wonderful to have you stop by to visit today, Mary. May the dear Lord bless you and keep you always in His care. Come back anytime! :)

      Delete
  14. What a beautifully written passage tying in our eternal home with our home here on earth, you have a gift for encouragement dear Cheryl, and what a wonderful thing to know that while our home is the best place on earth to be, there is an even better home awaiting us with our dear Lord! I have been on difficult journeys as well, driving in bad weather, trying to get home, and fearing the deer who seem ready to pounce into your path at any given moment, and oh the joy that wells up in your heart when you see the lights of home, and all is well! Driving in fog is so difficult, and then the worry of animals on the road - oh my, yes, I do understand!

    How the Lord has blessed you with a steadfast and loving husband and precious son to journey through this life with! May the Lord continue to bless and encourage you in this time of transition in your life... much love and hugs across the miles! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, your precious words! They are like apples of gold in pictures of silver to me. :) I am always so blessed by our sweet visits...both here and at your own precious blog. Yes, I am SO very thankful for my dear family and could never praise God enough for all of His many blessings. Thank you for your prayers for us...they mean so much. Many hugs and much love back to you from across the miles!!!

      Delete
  15. I love how you described your home as the place you look forward to, where you can relax and be yourself, where there is peace. And then how you tied it into our eternal home which is being prepared for us now. When we leave this life, it is only the beginning of a brand new life. Blessings to you! I'm visiting from Woman to Woman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, how true, Gayl!!! I loved your words, "when we leave this life, it is only the beginning of a brand new life". What a wonderful thought that is! I am so very thankful for your sweet visit...it encouraged me so much today! May the dear Lord bless you abundantly, and I hope you will come back often. :)

      Delete
  16. We all just want to go home. Lovely post. Visiting from Lyli's #58

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, yes! HOME! There is no place like it. Thank you so much for your sweet visit, dear Susan. So very thankful you stopped by and hope you will return often! :)

      Delete
  17. I so enjoyed this, Cheryl. I knew that you had moved as a child, I didn't know it was that often! Oh, that sounds so utterly disruptive. I only moved a few times growing up, and it was difficult. But, I'm glad that you had the security of family, and of course, our Lord. For indeed, where there is love, we are home.

    One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis is the one that you mentioned. And there are days, especially as I grow older, that I long for my eternal home. I love that Jesus promised us that He was preparing a mansion, and that He most certainly would return to get us! Talk about security and hope!!

    Reminds me of what Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz - "There's no place like home..." Yes, while we live on this earth, we thank the Lord for the blessing of a home in which to live and make memories and find joy and comfort. But even more than that, we thank Him for the blessed assurance of an eternal home forever, with Him, face-to-face!

    Yes, Lord, come quickly!

    GOD BLESS!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ever so much, dear friend! You are so right, there is no place like home, and I think there is something deep within all of us that longs for forever home that Jesus has gone to prepare. So thankful to walk this Christian/blogging journey with you, Sharon. Praying for you often and trusting God to bless you and your family. :) Sending big hugs your way!

      Delete