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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coming Home

Last night, our daughter, Kathy, and her three children, Hannah, Brianna and Isaiah, arrived in New York for their first visit. Kathy’s husband, Earl, is deployed in Iraq, so he will not be with us this year.

The flight arrived at 11:30 p.m. As I waited, I saw family after family greet arriving loved ones—kids coming home from college, sons and daughters with military haircuts and cameo backpacks, etc. You could see the eagerness as many of them literally ran into each other’s arms.

Soon my quartet of travelers came into view. Isaiah carried his blankie, Brianna had a sack with her favorite stuffed animal and Hannah was wearing calf-high boots, looking much like the pre-teen that she is becoming (she was 11 on this very day)!

Cries of ‘Papa’ rang out as they sprinted toward me. “What a special greeting,” I thought, as I hugged armfuls of kids.

Shortly, we were loaded and headed for Queensbury. Mimi (Susan) had been working all evening to make sure that all was ready.

As we came in sight of the house, I slowed to a crawl. Candles blazed in every window. Six inches of snow blanketed the yard. I pointed out the acres of woods they could play in. Excitement filled the car.

”I know what I want to do tomorrow!”
“I want to live here.”
“This is just what I’ve always wanted.”

Once inside, and after the greetings with Mimi, they got a tour of the house.

The tree was lit and beautiful.
All of the Christmas knickknacks that they remembered
from other Christmases were sitting around.
Air mattresses were blown up and beds neatly made.

Again they were beside themselves. The district parsonage has two floors, roughly 1800 sq. ft. per floor; not a mansion but certainly larger than the Army base housing they are living in now. “This is awesome!” they declared.

Then Susan took them to see ‘the clubhouse’. Under the stairs is a large storage space. It has two doors and a play space that would capture any child’s imagination. Being a grandma and teacher, Susan knew this would be a hit, and she made sure that I moved everything out so that the kids could play unhindered. If it meant moving a fire-proof filing cabinet that had sat there for decades, so be it. “Get your pastors to help you, and make it happen,” I was told. We did. I think this clubhouse will become their headquarters while visiting.

Sometime later in the night, I awoke and thought of Heaven, a place Jesus says He has gone to prepare.

Welcoming candles in every window.
Beds and rooms are prepared.
Surprises are in store.
Jesus awaits.

In his book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn writes:

“Do you recall a time when you were away from your earthly home and desperately missing it? Maybe it was when you were off at college or in the military or traveling extensively overseas or needed to move because of a job. Do you remember how your heart ached for home? That’s how we should feel about Heaven. We are a displaced people, longing for our home.”

C. S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Alcorn continues, “Nothing is more often misdiagnosed than our homesickness for Heaven. We think what we want is sex, drugs, alcohol, a new job, a raise, a doctorate, a spouse, a large-screen TV, a new car, a cabin in the woods, a condo in Hawaii. What we really want is the person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven. Nothing less can satisfy us!”

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