“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” John 14:1-4
The movers were loading up our house in Texas, Kristine and the kids had already headed north the day before. I only had one essential task before getting in the car the next morning and making the 18 hour drive to Indiana. I had to visit Brother Claude.
Over the years I had the opportunity to visit one on one with Claude many times. Whether he was at home or in the hospital, he always greeted me with a smile and with a joyous spirit. This visit was a bit different. He didn’t have the same smile and energy as usual. His health issues had increased and he had recently made the decision to pay for more constant help at his assisted living facility. Additionally, he knew it would be our last visit for quite some time.
We chatted about life for a bit. I told him about the new house in Indiana and I bragged on the Christians in Lafayette. I updated him on the kids and shared my concerns about their transition. Claude could tell I was excited to be moving home. When I asked him how he was feeling our conversation turned in a more serious direction.
“I’m tired. I’m ready to go home.” was his response. On just about every visit, Claude would speak of heaven but he would never say “heaven” or speak of a reward. He always talked about “home” and “being with the Lord”. Heaven was not a mansion or streets of gold. It wasn’t a materialistic paradise where you run around in the perfect immortal body. Heaven was the perfect home with the perfect Father, the perfect Brother, and the perfect Spirit. Heaven was the ultimate fulfillment of our purpose and design…being with the Lord, our Creator.
And when Brother Claude spoke of “home” it wasn’t with wishful thinking or fingers crossed. He didn’t speak about it in the distant future or as some far off magical place. Claude had a confident expectation of being with the Lord. He was longing for it, he was living every moment for it. He understood the pain of this life, better than many of us, and allowed his physical suffering to fuel his desire to go home.
Now this is the part that hit me right between the eyes and caused an aching in my heart. On that visit, as he was talking about home, I had just been talking about our new home in Indiana with such longing and passion, such excitement. I realized, in that moment, that my hunger to be home with the Lord is insufficient. I spend so much time and energy creating a comfortable existence here, trying to fill myself up with the temporal, that I don’t meditate on the eternal enough.
I realize that many of us are in different life situations than Brother Claude. We have children to raise and responsibilities that require our time and attention here on this earth. But the reality is that every day we either draw closer or slip away. We decide how to invest our time and resources and where to set our minds. If we don’t consciously and purposefully direct our lives the world will direct them for us.
When things are rough, talk about home. When things are good, talk about home. When your kids had a bad day at school, tell them about home. When your back aches, think about home. When your brother or sister starts despairing about our culture, remind them of home. In the morning, at mid-day and just before bed, meditate on home. When sorrow weighs down your heart, picture the faces of all those loved ones that are waiting for you at home.
Welcome home Brother Claude.