When Dorothy clicked her heels and whispered, “There’s no place like home,” she was expressing her heartfelt desire to return to Kansas.
At some time or another, most of us have felt that same aching desire to go home. For me, the word home brings to mind many different places. Growing up, my home was in Nebraska. Cheryl and I have made homes in Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and now Illinois. Each place became home to me because I was with the people I loved.
In their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Israelites were instructed to construct a dwelling place for God, and He would go with them even while they wandered in the wilderness. This dwelling, the tabernacle, was a beautiful tent made of rich fabrics. Like the people themselves, it could be moved from place to place.
The Gospel of John uses this same word for “tabernacle,” dwelling, to describe how Jesus made this world His temporal home. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14). The Son of God was here to dwell with people, to show them how to be in a relationship with God that would transform their lives and their understanding of home.
Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus picks up on the themes of “tabernacle” and “dwelling.” He told His followers that their ultimate home was with God: “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you” (14:2). Our relationship with God one day will be even more glorious and intimate than anything we can imagine now.
Our human longing for home is not just a desire to return to a physical location. It can also be understood as an expression of our spiritual longing. In Hebrews, the author distinguishes between our longing for a physical location and our hunger for the eternal: “For here we have not a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (13:14). Our hearts do not long for one particular physical place, but for a “city” we have never seen.
Ultimately, our longing for home is our spiritual desire to be forever united with our Heavenly Father in our eternal home. An old gospel song says it well, “This world is not my home. I’m just a-passin’ through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me, from heaven’s open door. And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” One day, if you know Him, Jesus Himself will welcome you home.