There’s something about going home, returning to the place where you were born, where you are always welcome, where you belong. I just returned from a trip to my hometown, Louisville, Ohio, for a family gathering and a speaking engagement. It never ceases to amaze me how my heart begins to swell with happiness as I cross the border into the Buckeye State and begin seeing the rolling hills and red barns of my native state.
Home. It carries great significance for several reasons:
Home is the place where you are nurtured and shaped.
I grew up the second oldest of 8 children, all born in the span of 10 years. To say we are close carries a double meaning! As I visited with my parents and siblings throughout last week, I appreciated even more their unique personalities and gifts. The Bible tells us, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NASB). I learned and grew with these wonderful individuals. Last week, we laughed together as we recounted many special memories. Throughout the week, I paused to reflect on how my many relatives had impacted my life and how grateful I was for each one of them.
Me, my parents, siblings, and our families 3 years ago at my daughter Katie’s wedding
I stayed with my mother the majority of the time I was in Ohio. Her gentle spirit, caring nature, quick wit, and personal strength continue to bless me beyond measure. One day, we talked about how I was such a shy, fearful child growing up and how she forced me to take a public speaking class in middle school, hoping it would help me. Well, it did. I went on to win the state championship twice and to place third in the United States in girls extemporaneous speaking, shocking lots of people . . . myself included. “And look at what you’re doing now . . . you’re a public speaker!” my mom said. I smiled, realizing only the Lord could cause such a transformation.
This past Saturday, I spoke at First Friends Church in Alliance, Ohio, about “Finding Hope in the Midst of Life’s Challenges.” Several friends from high school came to hear me speak. It was wonderful to see them again 35 years after our graduation. My friendships in high school also helped shape who I am today.
I know not everybody comes from a positive home or school environment, but wherever we are planted, wherever our roots go down, we have the opportunity to grow there. I have a dear friend who grew up in an abusive home environment. She allowed that experience to shape her in that she resolved to create a warm, nurturing home environment once she had a family of her own, and she has done just that. Her daughter is growing up in a household where she knows she is loved, accepted, and valued, and she feels safe and secure there.
Home is the place where you nurture and shape others.
When I moved to North Carolina 27 years ago with my husband David and then 7-week-old daughter Katie, I took all those home experiences with me as I began to raise my own children. The Lord blessed us with three daughters and a son, and I hope they experience the same warm feelings as I do when they think of home. I know the Lord has orchestrated the circumstances of their lives so that they can help to nurture and shape other individuals as well, whether those individuals are family of the home, or family of the heart.
One of the best ways we can nurture and shape others is to tell them about Jesus. When Jesus healed the demoniac, the man wanted to go with Jesus and travel with Him. Jesus did not let him, “but He said to him, ‘Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you’” (Mark 5:19, NASB).
I got to do that on Saturday night. I got to speak about the hope found in the Lord. I got to report to people at home what great things the Lord has done for me, and how He had mercy on me as I discovered my son had autism and I learned to thrive with Jesus in that place. That’s because . . .
Home is the place where you find Jesus.
All of our family and growing up experiences are meant to point us to the place where we truly belong, where we are nurtured, accepted, and loved . . . and that’s with Jesus. In the Christian faith, people talk about “going home” to be with Jesus when their earthly time is done. That’s Biblical. Our citizenship, our home, is in heaven when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Philippians 3:20, NASB). Jesus accepts us (Ephesians 1:6, KJV), nurtures us (Ephesians 5:29, 32, NASB), and loves us (John 15:9, NASB), and He is watching and waiting for the day when we will be home with Him forever (Luke 15:20; John 14:2-3, NASB).
Our true home is with Jesus.
Question: How has the Lord used your hometown experiences to help you and others know more about Him? Comment at the link below.