Recently, my husband and I — along with two of my brothers and their wives — went to the “Singing in the Sun” event at Myrtle Beach. That was my first trip and if you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. In case you’ve never heard of “Singing in the Sun,” it features lots of Southern gospel singers from all over the United States. We had the privilege of hearing and seeing lots of individuals and groups that I had heard on the radio and seen on T.V., but had never actually witnessed in a live performance — such as Guy Penrod (formerly with the Gaither Vocal Band). Each night, there was also a featured speaker, such as Dr. David Jeremiah or C.T. Townsend. After hearing C.T. Townsend, I decided if he doesn’t get your attention, then you must already be dead and just don’t know it.
One of the singers we heard mentioned the word “home” and then said something about her heavenly home. This got me started thinking about home and what it really means. When I researched the word home, the description is: “a house, apartment or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family or household or the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered … any place of residence or refuge; a heavenly home.” One definition even mentioned a nursing home — which is truly not my idea of a home.
Most of us, when we say home, we mean the place where we live. If we say we’re going home, we’re usually referring to the physical place where we go to eat, relax and get some rest and much-needed sleep. I know we’ve all heard people we work with say something like: “I’ll be glad when 5 o’clock gets here so I can go home.” Whether we’re going to a place we rent or a place that we’re making payments on, that is what we are usually referring to when we saying we’re going home.
I know, too, that a lot of people say things like: “I’m going home this weekend to visit my folks.” Usually that means they are going back to wherever they moved here from, but they still consider that place to be their home. That house where we grew up can still feel like home to us even after we’re married and living in a house of our own. It’s strange, though, that sometimes after your grandparents or parents both are dead and gone, if you visit their house, it just doesn’t seem like home anymore. Those furnishings and belongings they had just don’t mean as much to you either as they did to them.
Whenever we went through my mother-in-law’s things after she died last year, we found a lot of her things that she had kept for years and years that had special meaning to her. Those things just didn’t have the same value to us, however, because we were not sentimentally attached to them like she was. I mean, what were we supposed to do with dead flowers from her Senior prom, the death notice about someone’s funeral that we didn’t even know, or my daughter’s personal favorite – a bottle of water advertising a funeral home that we found in her freezer!
Even her house didn’t even seem to be the same without her in it. I mean, it just didn’t seem like home anymore. I remember feeling the same way about my parents’ house after they died. They had lived in my grandparents’ house for several years. I had never actually lived in that house, so maybe that is one reason it didn’t feel like home to me.
We can be too emotionally attached to our home so that we never want to leave it. I’ve seen that plenty of times when people get older and want to spend their last days in their own home. I can understand their wanting to be independent, so long as they can safely live on their own. Sometimes the family has no choice, however, when it gets to the point where they require around-the-clock care and the family cannot provide it themselves. That is always a hard decision, but sometimes it is necessary for the family’s peace of mind.
When a person dies, a lot of people say that person has gone on to their heavenly home. Since we are all going to die someday, I feel we should be prepared when the Lord calls us home. We do not know the hour or the day so we must be ready. In John 14:2, Jesus says: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
How wonderful is that — to think about our heavenly home being a mansion? I certainly do not live in one here on Earth, but I don’t really think I’m going to care when I get to Heaven. I don’t think it will be important whether it’s a mansion or a shack, just so long as I’m there!
What does “home” mean to you? Do you think of that earthly home you’ve invested so much time and money into, that childhood home with Mom, Dad and your siblings — or do you think about your heavenly home where we’ll spend the rest of our days singing and praising the Lord?
Hope to see you there!
Azalea R. Bolton is a resident of Richmond County, member of the Story Spinners of Laurinburg, and a member of the Richmond and Anson County Historical Societies.