Longing for Home (Advent Devotion) - Monday, December 31

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?   And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3 ESV)

During Advent, Christians focus on Jesus’ first and second comings. We wait for the day when Jesus takes us “home” to heaven. Some wait for it with a more intense longing than others. Life’s difficulties can also make our hearts ache for heaven at any time of the year. This is natural. Ecclesiastes 3:11b tells us that “He (God) has put eternity into man’s heart.  (ESV). 

The desire to “go home” is in the hearts of many Native Americans, too. They long to be able to return to the land and culture of their ancestors. Moreover, they remember when tens of thousands of their children were forced to live away from home at boarding schools between the mid-1870’s and 1990. 

Some of these children lived at the United States Indian Industrial Training School in Lawrence, Kansas. As young as 5 years old, they were given a new language, name, clothing, food, and religion. They were forbidden to continue using anything related to their Indian culture. This caused extreme heartache within them for their home and family.

The boarding school in Lawrence eventually became Haskell Nations Indian University. Oral history at Haskell includes a story about a boarding school student with that extreme heartache. Longing for home, he left the campus, in winter, on foot. His frozen body was discovered a few days later. He is buried in the school’s student cemetery.

Jesus also left His home. But He chose to do that because He longed for everyone to live with Him in heaven (John 3:16 and 1 Timothy 2:4). Trusting in His work of salvation on the cross fulfills the longings in our hearts. His second coming will also bring justice for all wrongs, including those done towards Native Americans.

Jesus, thank you for leaving your home to make a way for us to live with you forever. Help us to share your story of grace with everyone we meet. Give us your heart of compassion towards those who are homesick due to life’s difficulties, as we await your glorious return. In Your name, Amen.

Bill Paris, Haskell LIGHT Volunteer, Lawrence, Kansas