There is something special about Home isn’t there? I love that song by Michael Bubble’. And this kitchen chair of grandma brings back a lot of memories of home for me as well. My grandma Hovind taught me to play Cribbage, Canasta and a 100 board games around her kitchen table. She was intensely competitive and used to slaughter me at the card game “Kings in the Corner” (pause) when I was only 5. But despite the competition, we loved spending the night at her home. We used to put these kitchen chairs near each other and drape one of her afghans over it and make a tent to sleep in over night. And of course, when my brother was “sleeping” under the afgan tent, I’d sneak over and push on it, so it would collapse on him – because that’s what the oldest brother does to his younger brother right? :)
This kitchen table reminds me of my wife’s grandmother who passed away this year. I did the funeral and told many stories about her kitchen. The conversations she had with family members over the years - many who were hostile to issues of faith and God, and others who treasured their faith. She was so gracious and welcoming to everyone, no matter where they were. My wife Beth, who lived on the other side of her farm, loved walking across grandma’s 100 acre farmland as a kid to sit in grandma’s kitchen with a pickle, wrapped in lunch meat, and listen to grandma tell stories of Kentucky Baseball, growing up during a time you could buy a house from the Sears Robucks Catalog… Grandma’s home was an incredibly welcoming place whether you were a person of faith or not, young or old.
There is a longing in the human heart we can’t trade-up or give-up, but only Look Up to satisfy.
I. The Longing We Can’t Trade-up to Satisfy
C.S. Lewis was an accomplished scholar, writer, historian, and expert on ancient literature. He spent his time in a little office in a little chair where he taught at Oxford. As a committed atheist, he found himself unconvinced by the teaching of the Bible and Jesus. However, he loved reading ancient stories, fables, and myths that spoke of another world. Another reality. These stories tapped into a longing within Lewis for deeper purpose, a deeper connection to a larger story. He befriended J.R. Tolken, a follower of Christ, who wrote THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Tolken and Lewis’s friendship deepened, and Tolken shared with Lewis that the fictional stories moved him deeply because they were speaking to longings in each human heart for a world and purpose greater than our own. In his journey of faith, C.S. Lewis recognized this longing within himself when he said, “”If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Most people if they really look into their own hearts know that they acutely want something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things this world offers us, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings within us arise when we first fall in love, or first think of a going to a foreign country, or first take up some new subject that excites us…these are longings that no marriage, travel, learning, property, company, or new enterprise can fully and finally satisfy. Everything seems to normalize. I’m not talking about bad marriages or bad business deals, I am speaking of great ones. The best possible success stories are good, but they fade away when reality sets in. You may have a good wife or husband, stay at beautiful hotels with scenery that is excellent, but long term something is still missing.
For most of us we try to “TRADE-UP” to satisfy that longing. We get a bigger boat, car or home. We launch a new business. We trade in our spouse and family for a new one. We try a more exotic holiday or vacation, or a second home in a better place. We can spend our whole life trotting from job to job, house to house, car to car, boat to boat, woman to woman (through the divorce courts), from continent to continent, from hobby to hobby, always thinking the next “TRADE-UP” will satisfy that longing… but in the end we end up disappointed…again.
Tim Allen was interviewed in New York Times about his success a few years back. At the time he did something that had never been done, he wrote a best selling book, was in a top TV show, and had just starred in a blockbuster movie. The interviewer asked him what it felt like to be at the top of his game in the top of his industry…Tim Allen said he was exhausted. Worn out. What it took him to get this success had worn him out. His reservoirs were empty and his power was drained. The interviewee almost scoffed at this supposed melancholy response, but Allen insisted he was discouraged and drained. He was longing for something we all are longing for. We all want more than “increased activity,” we have a longing for Something that will fully and finally satisfy. So, we can try to “trade-up” to satisfy that longing…but this strategy never works…so often we “give-p.”
II. We Give-up on a Longing That Can Fully Satisfy
C.S. Lewis, as an atheist tried this. He tried to give up on these longings as nothing more than wishful thinking or glitches in our DNA. He thought of the whole idea as moonshine you grow out of. You may chase rainbow’s end when you are young, but you soon grow out of that kind of nonsense. So he settled down and tried not to expect too much. He gave up on the longing for a deeper purpose in life. He learned to suppress that ache in his heart. But Lewis found that he couldn’t suppress it. The older he got, the deeper those longings became. The “thirstier” he became for the potential that “Supposed you could have infinite happiness?” It would be a pity to find out too late (after you died) that you missed it all somehow. Lewis saw how impossible it was to “GIVE UP” on the longing for true purpose and freedom.
Remember when E.T. came out, this extra terrestrial wanders around the movie doing cute things, eating Reeses pieces, but has one montra: “E.T. phone home. E.T. phone home.” He longs for his home. He can’t, and doesn’t feel fully at home on this planet. Sometimes, it seems that we are like that, we live on this planet with it’s evil, suffering, death, pain, and injustice, but wonder around wanting to go home to a world with peace, harmony, love, without disease and pain.
It reminds us that the things we are worried about are really insignificant in the larger reality. Our health, or the accumulation of things in our life is so small compared to the things that really matter and last. These longings remind us that the things we think are a big deal really aren’t. It reminds us that there are things that truly are a big deal, and these are the things we should give more attention toward. We must explore these longing, rather than giving up on them.
My daughter Sierra played volleyball last year in 8th grade. She was coping with the onslaught of balancing all of her activities. One night I was sitting next to her in bed and she starting crying. I asked her what was wrong. She said, “It all just seems so meaningless!” What does, I asked? She said, “I get up, go to school, head to volleyball, come home, do homework, watch an hour of TV, go to bed, then get up and do it all over again!” I smiled. She was longing for a deeper purpose that comes from meaningful activity. I smiled because I’ve heard that same longing from stay at home moms, husbands in mid-life, executives and retirees. This longing for a deeper purpose. A freedom from meaningless activity.
The basic principle of Christianity is that we are all longing for the world that we were made for, one that was not broken. In the beginning, our world was created without pain, suffering, death, and betrayal. The Bible says that there is a God, an ultimate reality, a source of truth that is bigger and more transcendent than this world. It teaches that the longing for deeper purpose is exactly what you were made for and that eventually this will become evident. It teaches that that we are all longing for the world where death is abolished. Where evil is judged and there is accountability for everyone, where there are real rights and wrongs… We all long for this “home.”
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