This is not my home is a refrain I learned in my earlier years as a believer.  It is meant to concisely remind me that earth is not my home.  As much as I may enjoy the many blessings God graciously supplies directly from his hand or despite many challenges inevitable on this side of heaven, Christians are to look to heaven with a degree of hope and anticipation so as to say, in the deepest recesses of their heart, as confidently and peacefully as the Spirit of Christ in us enables, this is not my home.

This week’s events serve as another poignant example of my need for this helpful refrain.  As mentioned in an article some time ago regarding the death of my wife, Heidi, the time has come to relocate.  I’ve literally packed my things and moved out of state.  Over the course of the last three months, I’ve downsized lots of personal effects; resigned from my job; placed my home for sale and on 12/7 formally close on my home. 

I am writing this during the last week of my residence here at 14 Nelson Ave.  As the home gradually became emptier over the last 90-days, part of what has made it difficult is the fuller sense of the finality of Heidi’s death.  Some of the remaining items I packed this week were the photos of us that still hung on the walls as well as bible verses she painted on various sized canvases. She loved to craft and I loved seeing all that she would create with her hands.  She was very gifted in this area. 

As I cleaned-up the home and packed the final set of belongings, I found a tension within me.  Part of me wanted to keep the home after all.  Part of me didn’t want to sell so as to help preserve as much of my memory of her for as long as possible.  Part of me didn’t want to give-up our first home together.  Part of me wanted this to be my home forever.

Surrendering the home during this process became a new way for me to walk by faith and “live out” that refrain in a new way; to put into action that I actually believe the things I say I believe.  In the truest sense, with the most rational part of my brain at work, I “know” that it is perfectly fine to move-out and move-on from this place.  God has no command that I guard and keep this home indefinitely just because Heidi and I bought this place together.  I am not bound here.  I know this. But…

Grief doesn’t always make sense. 

Sadness and the pain of loss can make the flesh confused and mixed-up at times, and in such a way that turns rational thoughts upside-down or at least prompts irrational thoughts to attempt to supplant the rational ones. 

Another way to think about this would be this: In the pain of loss, we can accidentally slip into a legalistic mindset and tendencies vis-à-vis sentimentality.  And so the grace that God supplies which enables us to move forward in freedom, we surrender for the sake of making use of desires that are ultimately and truly earthly and fleshly. 

We do this because in our pain, we need comfort but in our weakness and sin, we seek comfort that isn’t from above; rather, from below.  We can be prone to seek comfort in ways that are sourced from our hands rather than the hand of God.

In order to be brought back on course, we need these tendencies to be disrupted and preferably straightforwardly so, not in some unclear and unhelpful way.  That is to say, if in our grief we are finding solace in sinful things, we need to be told that this solace is sinful. 

But I know it’s hard.  Believe me, I know.  I want so badly to be rid of my loneliness and if you’ve lost a spouse or a child, I know you want the pain to stop more than you want just about anything else.  I (perhaps you, too) want to be rid of the new and sudden sense of being a kind of wanderer floating about in this world seemingly without an apparent sense of direction and stability.

When the one we love is gone, part of us left with them. It can be terribly disorienting. But thanks be to God who supplies our deepest need in Christ through his death and resurrection.  

My deepest need isn’t relief from the pain of the loss of my wife through death. Rather, my deepest need is Christ. 

I need Christ and all the accompaniments therein: Reconciliation with the Father, Regeneration by the Spirit, Forgiveness through the Son (to name a few).  I need to see Christ in such a way that doesn’t merely diminish pain, but whether the pain is diminished or not, I am drawn into him so as to hope for heaven more than I ever hoped for anything before. 

I need an acquaintance and familiarity with the gospel that quenches the deepest thirst in my soul so as to give up looking for satisfaction on and in things on this side of heaven. I need Christ’s comfort.  I need stability and direction.  I need to remember, albeit however painful, that this is not my home; rather, that Heaven awaits – my true home that will indeed last forever.

* Originally drafted November 30, 2021