Where do you feel most at home?
Curled up cosy in a blanket on a frosty Saturday morning with a good book, a steaming cuppa and no other plans?
Around a table outside on a warm summer evening, smell of meat on the barbecue, enjoying a quiet drink with the grown-ups while the kids run about on the lawn?
On the couch with your spouse after a long day at work?
Having a place to lay your head, where you can relax and look forward to coming home to is an invaluable thing. A place where you feel welcome, where your input is valued and your presence missed when you're not there.
I am a university student with a couple of years of flatting under my belt. My first flat was a bit of a horror story. It started off reasonably well. Not a particularly bad house and I liked my flatmates. A year and a half later, almost an entire turnover of tenants with not a lot in common, a steady routine of frying and not cleaning a lot, and eight weeks of a flatmate skipping rent and a surprise backlog of power bills were weighing on me.
So it was a huge relief to move into a fairly functional flat where I didn't have to be in charge and it was clean and warm most of the time.
But even now a bit of peace can be hard to find. Pressure from deadlines, miscommunication and forgotten duties can eat away at a sense of well-being.
When things get hard, it can be very easy to want to be elsewhere. When we feel low, we can imagine life would be so much better if only...
If only I had more time. If only I was more disciplined. If only I was back at home.
Jesus astutely comments 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also' (Luke chapter 12, verse 34)
What is your treasure, the thing you value most? The thing your heart yearns for?
Imagine you're sifting through a box of free things. It's free? What a bargain! I'd better take it. For me, this activity involves placing far more value on things than they are really worth. I fool myself into thinking I need this or that, or that it's really funky and I will use it to make this or do that.
In reality it is rubbish. It is free for a reason. You are never going to make furniture out of scrap wood.
Similarly my heart has a chronic longing for things other than God. Identity. Achievement. Experience. Things appear as sumptuous feasts plastered in glossy high definition on every billboard. In moments of clarity I know these things are little more than dust in my hands and ash in my mouth.
I know I need to focus more and more on God's glorious character. I need to remember how good I've got it, and how much I could lose if I walked away.
God is incredibly kind. He is insurmountably generous. He is indefatigably merciful.
Although I reject his rightful Lordship as Creator, taking His good gifts and ignoring my responsibilities to Him, He doesn't give me the punishment I deserve for my rebellion.
In fact He gave His innocent Son to take on my punishment in my place. Jesus died on the cross to satisfy the Father's wrath and allow me to come before God without being destroyed.
God has adopted me into His own household. Although I am not worthy to be a slave, He counts me as a son.
I have a true home. One way more satisfying and peaceful than anything else I could experience on Earth. Not earthly riches, fame nor pleasure can compare. I have a place where I am truly welcome and long awaited. My Saviour is expecting me, and I will run this race knowing He will meet me at its end.
Although shiny scraps catch my eye on the way, I know I will not fall. For my Lord, who is faithful and trustworthy, will make sure I am presented holy and blameless come judgement day.
Matthew Joils is a Fine Arts student at the University of Canterbury. He is involved in the Christian Union on Campus. He enjoys having people in his house, drinking tea, and gardening. He publishes occasionally on his blog: www.matthewjoils.wordpress.com
Matthew Joils' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/matthew-joils.html