"Ah! There is nothing like staying home for real comfort," Augusta Elton said in Emma.
Most of us would agree. The idea of home is one of comfort, peace, and rest. Home is where we celebrate being together with the ones we love. Holidays and anniversaries of weddings and births are enjoyed around the home hearth. Ideally, it is a place of warmth for heart and body, where we feel most satisfied and comforted.
Unfortunately, the ideal doesn't happen under every roof. For many, "home" is a place of discomfort, to be avoided as long as possible; where meals are gulped because the atmosphere is so unpleasant. There, unrest, noise, shouting, and disorder reign.
Most of us live in a home that is neither the one nor the other. It is neither a model nor a mockery, just mediocre.
Moses looked for his "home," not in an earthly dwelling place, nor in a temporal family, but in a spiritual one. In Psalm 90:1, he said to God, "You've been our home forever" (The Message). He looked for comfort, intimacy, rest, and peace--not in an earthly place, or to fallible people--but to God.
Let's look at some of the components of "home":
Another Psalmist said, "He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear" (Psalm 112:7-8, NIV). In the unsettled sea of life, we find mooring in God.
God "knows the secrets of the heart" (Psalm 44:21), and He "knows the thoughts of man" (Psalm 94:11). No one on earth, even those dearest to us, can be as intimate with our heart as God.
Joshua encouraged the exhausted Israelites: "'The Lord your God is giving you rest" (Joshua 1:13, NIV). Jeremiah prophesied, "'Ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls'" (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV). Jesus himself said, "'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me . . . you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light'" (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV). We can rest when we know God.
Jesus assures us that our home with Him will be filled with peace. "'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid'" (John 14:27, NIV).
The blessing the Lord gave to Moses and Aaron for His people said, "'The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace'" (Numbers 6:24-26, NIV). Isn't this the kind of "home" we want? Then, we can all agree there's no place like home.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow urged a secular audience:
"Stay, stay at home, my heart and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are the happiest."
Let's apply his advice spiritually--to our real home.
© 2008 Sylvia Stewart
Jane Austen, Emma (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), 252.