What is home?

When you think of home, what does it look like? Is it your childhood house? A specific town? A room? A person? Home takes a different shape as you go through life. When I was a kid, home was a yellow house with a big backyard in Michigan. Then we moved, and home became a red brick house in Indiana. But now, as a college student, home looks much different. It may sound cheesy, but home is wherever the people I love are. Home is a safe place, a comfort, and a resting place. No house can create that sort of feeling. That is the kind of feeling that can only be created through being surrounded by people you love.

So if that’s what home is, then can you imagine how wonderful Heaven will be? Not only surrounded by people that you love, but forever resting in the arms of our heavenly Father. Surrounded by the purest love that could ever exist, and in the presence of the One who knows exactly what we need. That is what home is.

This world can certainly be good, and we have people that we love, but don’t be fooled. This is not home. This is not where we belong! This is the journey on our way home, on the way back to the Father. Do not lose sight of your true home while building one here. Of course, we are here to invest in and love others, and we should not neglect that. But we can remember that the places we settle into here can never compare to the home that we have in Christ.

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.”  Hebrews 13:14-15.

Nobody’s Perfect

When I was little, I remember my mom always telling me, “All I ask is that you do your best. And that you actually do your best.” Those words could be both a comfort and a motivation. The thing that I knew was that, sure, maybe I could fool the people around me into thinking that I was doing my best, but I knew whether it was or not. As a result, if I knew that it wasn’t my best, I really wouldn’t be happy with it.

Fast forward to now, when I’m an almost 20-year-old. I was home this past weekend visiting with my family, and my was telling my mom a story about something I was doing and trying to get just right, and her response was that I was a perfectionist. Was she wrong? No. I am. I will do things over and over and over again until they are just right. I think this is why some homework assignments take longer for me than for others, and my personal writing projects are read by very few. I need things to be the best that they can be in order for me to be truly proud of them.

I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing. My desire for things to be done well has provided me with a good work ethic and a desire to be proud of things that have my name on them. I have been rewarded with good grades and great work opportunities. However, it’s impossible to be perfect.
That is where I start to struggle. This is the point in which I get frustrated. These are the nights that I lose sleep. I can’t be perfect – none of us can. That’s the downfall of being human. And that’s why we can’t do it all on our own.

Yes, I struggle with admitting that I can’t be this superhero who does everything really well and on-time and without flaws. I cannot claim to never sleeping through an alarm or forgetting to turn in a homework assignment. And I definitely can’t claim to having everything organized and having my life together all the time. To the perfectionist in me, this is really hard, because I want people to know that I can do it all. I want to be able to do it all.

But I can’t. I can’t do it all. The problem is that perfection is not achievable because we’re human. And all that pressure that I put on myself, and that many put on themselves, is unrealistic.

Thankfully, I am surrounded by forgiving and understanding people who know that perfection is unobtainable. And most importantly, we serve a God who has never once expected us to be perfect.

Isaiah 40:28-31 says, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young man shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

I think we need to be careful. We need to be cautious of whose strength we are relying on. I can be a perfectionist forever, and try endlessly to make everything come together perfectly, but it will not happen in my strength alone. And in the end, we cannot control the day anyway! God is the one who makes every decision, directs every step, and holds the entire universe in his hands. Who am I to try and mold my life on my own?

I am learning to rest in the truth that my power is very, very small compared to the incredible power of my Lord. I am learning to let this information comfort me, and not make me feel weak. Because the truth is, we are weak, and we are imperfect, and we will fail. But we rest in the hands of a God who is not weak, and not imperfect, and will never fail.

Things You Learn While Packing

So, we made it. By “we” I mean those of us who are finishing up this school year. Personally, I am about to finish my sophomore year of college. The end of the year means finals, finding summer jobs, saying goodbye to friends, and worst of all; moving.

Yes, moving is terrible. Taking down decorations, filling boxes, and moving furniture is something that I will avoid as long as possible. So naturally, I’m writing about it.

Here are six things I learned while packing:

  1. Sticky tack is awful. And at the beginning of the year sticky tack seems like such a great idea, but eight months later it does not.

 

  1. My apartment/home/room is always dirtier than I think it is. I think, “I clean pretty regularly”, “I keep up with my chores”, but when I move the couch and finally look under the rug I find three layers of dirt and a tiny suburb of dust bunnies huddled in the corner. Always. Every time.

 

  1. I have so much stuff. I would even say I have too much stuff. And most of it is literally junk that I forgot I had, so I put it in a random closet or drawer and never dealt with. Why do I do this.

 

  1. I don’t need to save so many pieces of candy. It happens, I get candy in the mail, collect it from campus activities, get handed candy from people trying to catch my attention from tables in the cafeteria. And then where does it go? In a bowl. In my apartment. And then forgotten about until it’s melted or hard or gross. Lesson: go on a candy purge every three weeks. It’s very important.

 

  1. I will never feel more powerful than when I successfully fit a million random things into my tiny little toyota corolla. She’s strong, but she is mighty. Like the little engine that could.

 

  1. There are very few things that are as sad as walking into an apartment that is empty of decorations, furniture, and every little thing that made it home. When I first walked into my apartment, the white walls and empty rooms are a blank canvas for everything that is coming. But leaving an apartment with white walls and empty rooms feels a little like erasing everything that was.

My goal, as I move out of sophomore year and into summer and then junior year, is that the end is not an ending. It is not erasing. It is restarting. It is clicking the metaphorical refresh button and letting yourself be open to new opportunities, situations, and people.

As we finish this season, don’t think of it as an end. Think of it as a re-beginning.

Silence.

Silence. How often do we find true silence? How many times a day do we find ourselves sitting in a space so quiet that we can’t even hear the humming of an air conditioner, or the buzz of the electricity in a lamp? For me, that answer is never.

Silence has become an indulgence. Something that we reward ourselves with after we’ve completed all our work, seen everyone we need to see, and finished all the chores around the house. And maybe we don’t even experience silence after that; maybe our reward has become watching television while scrolling through social media.

When I study, I listen to music. If I’m with people, someone is usually talking. When I’m doing chores or getting ready, I pick my favorite playlist on spotify or turn on the TV to provide some background noise. Silence has become bothersome. Silence has become a bad thing.

Last week I visited a small chapel that sits on the back of my college campus, and for the first time in a very long time, I experienced silence. For over an hour, I sat without distractions and was silent; no phone, no homework, no emails buzzing in my pocket. It was in those moments that I realized how loud life truly was…how loud I allowed life to be.

We need silence. We need to sit without distractions and be still. The Bible gives us several verses about this:

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14).

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” (Psalm 62:5).

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.” (Job 6:24).

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” (Isaiah 30:15).

Yet today we are fed constant noise. Maybe we like the noise because it distracts us from having to listen. God uses the silence to speak, and perhaps the truth for many is that they don’t want to hear what the Lord is trying to tell them, so they fill their lives with noise instead. This reminds me of another story in the bible:

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.” (Jonah 1:1-3).

(If you don’t know that story, Jonah eventually gets swallowed by a fish and then comes to his senses, following God’s directions and doing as God asked. There’s a whole veggietales episode about it.)

Basically the point I’m trying to make is this; silence is a good thing. Silence is peace. Silence is sanity. Silence is listening and obedience. And in this loud and pushy world we live in, silence is necessary.

However, silence is still hard to find. But I encourage you to search for it. Find ten minutes in your day that you can dedicate to silent listening without distractions. Maybe it’s waking up ten minutes earlier, maybe it’s staying up ten minutes later, or maybe it’s substituting ten minutes of your social media time. However you can find it, I encourage you to use it.

Danny Gokey

If We Are the Body…

In a bible study I was having this week, I came across this verse in Ephesians 4. It said, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (Ephesians 4:25). All members of one body. Now, I grew up in the church. I have heard this metaphor my entire life. I know that the Sunday school answer is that we are all supposed to love, encourage, and lift each other up, and that is true. But this image of being the same body became new to me when I read this passage again.

I think all Christians can agree that we are at war. As followers of Christ, we are in an ongoing battle with sin and evil. My question is, isn’t that exhausting enough? Isn’t that taking up enough of our energy? Why would we spend time fighting within the body?

I thought, maybe this is because I attend a Christian University. Although I am not naïve enough to think that all of my classmates and peers are Christians, I do know that that is the environment that we are constantly submerged in. Chapel, bible studies, prayer groups, and worship nights fill the schedules. That is a wonderful thing, and I love going to school here because of it. But I also think that we as students, are somewhat sheltered to the challenges outside of our little safety bubble. As a result, we forget to keep our eyes on the prize.

It can be easy to forget where the enemy lies, and the result can be conflict and quarreling with the “allies”. The battle is hard enough when we’re fighting the enemy; we don’t need to make it any harder by fighting with our fellow soldiers.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

We are called to live together, brothers and sisters, and lift each other up. None of us can finish the race on our own. Be active in your fight and invested in building the body of Christ.