Every winter we come to our little home up in the mountains. When I was little, I remember not liking it here because “there was nothing to do” and because I didn’t like the cold, not at all. I remember we used to inflate our air mattresses and move to the living room and turn on the fire place so we could be all together when we were scared to sleep in our own rooms and stay warm together. My dad used to tell us stories as we fell asleep. I remember cracking up as he told us stories about when he was younger, or make stories with Kaz, Emmanuel and I as characters. As the flames died down our eyes lids grew heavier, we would finally all fall asleep.
This is probably our 10th winter here. It is still very cold, the kind of cold that requires seven blankets, and “there is still not a lot of to do” up here, but this little place is home in so many ways. This morning as I woke up I heard my mom say to my brother, “You don’t have to do anything, you just have to be.” And this place, and family is such a representation of that.
As my time in Ecuador came to a close, if I am being completely honest, I was scared to come home. I was scared of missing Ecuador so much and all the people who were family and home to me for the past three and a half months that I wouldn’t be thankful to be home, or I wouldn’t be present with them. I was scared that I wouldn’t know how to love them well. I guess I was even scared of not fitting in with them, what if I had changed, what if they had inside jokes I didn’t understand? What if it didn’t feel like home at all?
It was for a split second, when I saw my parents at the airport and I recognized them that I knew they were home, and my heart was there, all in, all present. I think no matter how long I haven’t been home, or where I have been, this little family of mine will still be my family. They know me fully, the messiest parts of myself. And they show me grace. Loads and loads of grace. Like how they knew I would be tired, so they let me sleep for a week straight. Or my dad sitting with me for like 2 hours while I showed him pictures of Ecuador (with commentary about them and all!) Or how I still have a toothbrush in the bathroom (Its the little things!) Or my sister sleeping next to me when it feels weird to be back in my own room. They truly show me a picture of constant, patient, and kind love.
And I realize that they really show me a picture of my ultimate home…the Lord
God is still home, even after I have been away for a while. There are times when life is busy, and I put God in the back burner and don’t spend enough time with him, not nearly as much as my heart needs. Sometimes I am just distracted. I am distracted by all the other things that sound more attractive than sitting down to read the word. Sometimes I just feel like I have been away from him, that I feel ashamed to come to Him. But this is not who God is at all. At all.
God remains constant. His love remains that same. He is still crazy about me…you, even after we have been away. God doesn’t change his mind about us. He does not grow tired of wanting us…of pursuing us. He doesn’t grow cold or distant from us. He doesn’t see us differently, doesn’t see us as tainted or unknown. He knows when I am homesick for other things, He knows that my heart wanders and drifts. He knows I am forgetful about who He is. He knows I forget and doubt sometimes. He knows about my humanness and brokenness. It doesn’t come as a surprise to Him.
No matter where we’ve been, or for how long, He is home.
My heart leaps in this freedom.
That God will choose me, over and over again. No matter where I’ve been. No matter how long I’ve been away from home. He will remain kind, He will remain forgiving, He will remain waiting for me with open arms. He will remain wanting good things for me, He will remain offering better than all of my distractions. He will always be holding his hand out for me to dance with Him, and let Him lead me in the seasons or situations I have no idea how to move.
My place in His heart, your place in His heart will never be occupied. Time isn’t up. He isn’t looking at anyone else. He is not giving up. He isn’t growing tired. His love isn’t growing cold, or bitter.
The Lord wants you and me. Fiercely. Kindly. His love is longing. His love is constant. His love is good. His love is home.
And I think even when coming home to the Lord may sound daunting, my heart whispers,
There is no fear in perfect love.
I think my heart needs this reminder tonight.
When I was going through my grumpy teenage years, my mom would come into my room after we had an argument and she would say, “Almita, there is nothing, absolutely nothing you can say or do that could make me stop loving you.”
And I think the Lord is the same way. There is nowhere we could run. Things we could say, do, think… that could ever, ever make Him change His love for us. I am perfectly sure that our story with Him never ends with ashes.
I think our story always ends in redemption, in the unraveling of ourselves, it ends in light shining through, it ends in goodness. His love is relentless. His love for us is crazy, boundless, lavish, eternal. His love is home.