“I was looking for a home where I could feel safe…Now I desired only to rest safely in a place where I could feel a sense of belonging, a place where I could feel at home.”Henri Nouwen – from the Prologue of The Return of the Prodigal Son
What is your special place? Your place where you felt secure, beloved, and at home? What is the place where you felt the freedom to be yourself, the encouragement to indulge your curiosity, the confidence to explore your gifts? What is the place that you call home?
In The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen suggests that within us all is a deep desire for this sense of home. It is a longing “…that lies far beyond the ups and downs of a busy life, something that represents the ongoing yearning of the human spirit, the yearning for a final return, and unambiguous sense of safety, a lasting home.” All our earthly experiences of home point us to something lasting and eternal – our home with God.
All our earthly experiences of home point us to something lasting and eternal – our home with God.Tweet
Nouwen shares with us his surprise at discovering that this home is something that we can experience right now. It is not something that we have to wait on. He shares with us Jesus’ words from John 14:23: “Anyone who loves me will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home in him.” Home, our deep eternal home, is something we carry within us simply by virtue of being one with Christ in our faith.
This inner sense of home becomes our great resource for ministry. The more deeply we experience God’s love at home within us, the more we sense the calling to speak and demonstrate that love to a hurting world. Henri Nouwen describes the experience: “I know now that I have to speak from eternity into time, from the lasting joy into the passing realities of our short existence in this world, from the house of love into the houses of fear, from God’s abode into the dwellings of human beings… One could call it the ‘prophetic’ vision: looking at people and this world through the eyes of God.”
The more deeply we experience God’s love at home within us, the more we sense the calling to speak and demonstrate that love to a hurting world.Tweet
This understanding of “home” as something we carry within us prompts us as church leaders to ask ourselves challenging questions:
- How have I experienced being at home with Christ?
- How does that experience empower me for life and leadership in the church?
- How do I invite people to engage with the profound love of God as He makes His home in their hearts?
- How do I help people grow in the ability to experience and communicate this sense of home?
- How do I challenge people to serve others through words and deeds, giving them a taste of this eternal home?
Print these questions out or take a screenshot of them. Then set aside 20 minutes sometime later today or this week to prayerfully think about them. In that time, turn off your electronic devices, re-read John 14:23, and enjoy a few moments of silence to calm your mind. Ask God to show you insight. Then start taking notes on the insights that God gives you.
Please share your insights with me. I’d love to hear what God teaches you through this exercise.
Soli Deo Gloria
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