I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

My heart was so full it felt like it would burst. I was finally home! It seemed like forever since I had been here and all of the familiar faces and places filled my heart with joy so inexpressible my tears would not stop falling. It felt so silly to cry at a time like this but I had been away a long time and had so yearned for this reunion that, at times, it made me almost heartsick. I had discovered in those days just what homesick really meant. I had missed home, family and friends so much that at times my heart had literally ached within my chest. Depression and bone-numbing fatigue would overtake me and I would hug my pillow at night, sobbing my longing into it. Not that my life was bad; God had truly blessed me in so many ways for which I would be eternally grateful, but Dorothy was right…there really is no place like home.

But now I was finally here and I could not contain my joy! Mom, always pragmatic and not usually one given to overt shows of affection, wrapped me up in a hug so warm and close, it felt like we were melting into each other. I was surprised and overjoyed, sharing her obvious pleasure at my return. Surrounded by friends and family at this celebration, I felt instantly and completely loved and accepted by their hugs and words of welcome. As my hungry glance bounced from each beloved face to familiar face, my eyes landed on my best friend and I was enveloped and overwhelmed with a sense of well-being I had long-since forgotten. It seemed like a lifetime since I had seen him face-to-face. Of course, we had stayed in close contact over the years, talking and writing almost daily, but there is nothing like running into the arms of your soul mate and delighting in the embrace of one who knows you even better than you know yourself; who loves you in spite of your faults and accepts you fully, just as you are with no judgment or hidden agenda…nothing but perfect acceptance and love.

“Come walk with me, I have something to show you,” he said as we held hands, reluctant to let go of our embrace. “It won’t take long and we have plenty of time.”

As we walked and talked, our clasped hands swung gently between us, completely content to share each other’s company as my eyes drank in the beauty of these familiar surroundings. After what seemed only a few blocks, we stopped in front of a quaint little clapboard cottage with a deep front porch that wrapped around the side of the house, and a front screen door. Two rocking chairs and a porch swing welcomed us as we stepped up the walk. I couldn’t believe the beauty of the yard; a thick, lush carpet that beckoned to our bare feet. Laughing together, we exulted in the cool, rich perfection of the grass, even as I noticed there were no weeds or “stickers” as we used to call them. The flowers in the beds were so profuse and brightly colored they almost hurt my eyes. Fuchsia colored bougainvillea abounded over a trellis at the side of the porch and multi-colored roses: yellow with pink edges, tangerine, rose, lavender, and deep red, perfumed the air. I reached out to touch one that was the purest white I had ever seen and noticed there were no thorns. The trees were heavy with ripe fruit and I picked a fat purple plum, amazed as the flavor burst in my mouth, juicy and sweet. I had never tasted such perfection! He chuckled at the ecstasy on my face, as juice ran down my chin.

We stepped across the walkway to a little pool fed by a beautiful fountain. As I leaned over to splash the juice away from my chin, I marveled at the water as it bounced and danced when it hit the surface. In wonder, I looked up to see him grinning in anticipation of my reaction.

“Is that music coming from…the water…?” I wondered aloud. “And are these beautiful stones what they appear to be?”

“Pretty cool, huh?” He said, relishing my amazement at the gemstones glistening in the bottom of the little pool.

Suddenly, I realized there was music everywhere, and it seemed to emanate from everything around me: the grass, the water, the flowers, the trees and even the house itself.

“C’mon, let’s go…the feast is about to begin!”

“But we didn’t even get to go in. I want to see your house!” I replied reluctantly.

“Silly, this is YOUR house…prepared exactly for you according to everything you love and want. We’ll come back later and you’ll find everything exactly as it is supposed to be, but for now, it’s time to celebrate your homecoming.”

With grateful tears spilling over, I clasped him in a big hug and exclaimed, “Oh, Jesus! How can I ever thank you for all you’ve done? I’m so happy to finally be home!”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you know me intimately; the deepest desires and longings of my heart are open and visible to you, and yet you love me completely in spite of my unloveliness. Help me to keep my heart and my mind focused on you while I strive to remain active and productive in this world…something that isn’t always easy to do. I want to be pleasing in your sight and in your service so that when I come home, I will be able to enjoy all of the treasures you have laid up for me as a result of the lives and hearts you have touched through my life on this earth. I give you all that I am. Live in me, Holy Spirit, so that when I am finally allowed to come home, the rejoicing will be that much sweeter as I hear you say, ‘Welcome home my good and faithful child.’ I love you and praise you with all of my heart in Jesus’ name, amen.

Additional Scriptures: “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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

-- John 14:2-3

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” -- 2 Corinthians 5:1-8

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