Explanations of where we are from are often complicated and drawn out. There are caveats. There are footnotes. There are family and personal and cultural nomadic histories. We assign great significance to having a home base, even if it’s inexact. As we build relationships, we value knowing respective origins. Inevitably we ask, “Where’s home for you?”
This question can even be offensive. Recently a well-meaning friend asked our predominantly Asian Bible study group where they were from. Many felt singled out as a minority . Their otherness was highlighted even in a setting as diverse as San Francisco, a long-standing Asian-American haven. As a fifth generation American Jew, thankfully my people’s assimilation is near complete.
I originally hail from suburban “North Jersey.” My closest friend, also named Arielle, joined me there when we were twelve. It was her ninth move. Five were cross-country road trips. After high school we explored Israel for six weeks. She found it more home-like than anywhere else she’d been. Afterward we moved (my first time) to Manhattan for college. In subsequent travels it was easy for us to tell fellow hostel-dwellers we were from New York. Of course, New York implied New York City.
I’ve since taken up residence on the West Coast. My mother, however, still inhabits my high school town. It’s actually our shared alma mater with a difference of 34 years. My mother has perhaps the simplest answer to where her home is.
Last week I visited her. I was present with her in my childhood home where she still lives. Although being there for me is the simplest answer to that universal, aforementioned question, it’s not truly home.
In Genesis chapter 12 God called Abraham out of his father’s house, out of Ur, to become a new nation in a new place. God chose Abraham’s true home. Abraham’s descendants were always most blessed when they abided in the place God had carved out for them . This echoes a truth beyond Genesis. We see it in the brit hadashah, the New Covenant, too.
In one of the first Jews for Jesus’ writings, Paul says, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven… that mortality may be swallowed up by life” (II Corinthians 5:1-2, 4b).
This desire for home is universal, which explains why the Bible addresses it. God has put this yearning for home, identity and belonging within us. We are meant to be where God wants us, and he has our best interests in mind. His desire for our “home” is to be where he is, reunited with him despite our imperfections and shortcomings. “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms;” (Deuteronomy 33:27a). His presence fills our need for wholeness.
If you feel like you have no landing place in this world, it’s quite possible that the answer isn’t in this world. But it is somewhere. If you’d like to discuss this further, feel free to leave a comment below. Additionally, please e-mail us at [email protected] with any specific questions on God and making him our home away from home.