Most Sunday Schoolers have heard of the Promised Land. God’s people needed this land, for they had been slaves in Egypt, nomads in the desert, and exiles from any sort of home. The Promised Land was rumored to be a land flowing with milk and honey. It would be fertile so they could survive, and it would be a land to call their own where they could thrive. God promised to take care of His people, to deliver them into the fullness of this land and He did. Home.
But what about me? I am not an Israelite, and I do not live in the desert; but I too am craving a home for my heart and a taste of sweetness in this life. My desert is a swirl of activity. I drive concentric circles shuttling overstuffed backpacks and stinky athletic equipment to and from various schools, I have a million message beeping at me from too many devices asking me for this and reminding me of that, and my heart is baffled that life’s calendar can feel so full while I can feel so empty. In the midst of my swirling culture, I feel pangs of homesickness. My heart craves a HOME and a connection with the One who promises sweet love and care for me.
So, I must ask Jesus, how do I get to the Promised Land from here? I imagine Him smiling and responding, Well, I am so glad you asked.
This question led me to think about Heaven. It is the place that is to be my forever Home, and it is the place for which we were made. Our bodies, minds and souls were made to feel at Home there. Scripture tells us that we are citizens of Heaven, and aliens here on earth. Like an animal living out of its habitat, it is normal that I would feel out-of-sorts here, even on a good day. So, this homesickness in my heart… maybe it is actually a healthy longing for a true Home.
Still, I know the old stories apply to us today, so if God offered the Promised Land then, there remains an invitation for me today. But where is it and how do I get there? I have sat with this question and let it wander a bit in my soul. And that led me to wonder, what if Jesus living in our hearts is the sweet and narrow gate into the glories of the Promise Land?
Jesus told His people He was "the way" and then in John 15 He said, “Live in me. Make your home in me, just as I do in you…" I think we only do half of this. We ask Jesus into our hearts, and we visit as we need to. We ask for things (not open ended questions that would require listening), we present things (like our noble church doings), we drive around and talk to Him here and there, (as we think of it). This is all good, but what if it is just the beginning? What if He wants to have us over to His place, too? And what if the door from my heart to His Home is He, Himself? Will I follow Him there?
Maybe our heart homesickness is a sweet nudge from the Jesus in our hearts to follow the longing deeper in. Paul said he counted everything a loss (swirling culture) in order that he would gain Christ and "be found IN HIM". He said he "had his eye on the goal, where Christ is beckoning us onward - to Jesus." I think that is the Promised Land. It is a home within a home, Christ in me AND me in Him.
All this time, I thought I was preparing these precious guest quarters for Christ in my heart. It turns out, He is has been waiting to show me a secret little door that He Himself created in the depths of my very own heart. And through that door, He is beckoning me into Himself, the Promised Land.
And the true glory of it all is that I can go there while I wait in carpool line.