Column – Follow Your Heart Home

Published 8:01 pm Friday, August 12, 2022

Here is a list of actual complaints received by travel agencies. For instance, someone wrote and complained, “On my vacation in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.” Another griped, “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”

One traveler wrote, “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.” Here’s a brilliant one. “No one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.” Finally, this was a problem that might seem obvious in many places, but not to this traveler. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

All of this proves, among other things, that some people really should just stay home probably. Trouble is, some of us have never truly found our home, have we?

Hebrews 11: 1-3, 8-16 begins by assuming the reader has begun at the beginning. That is, the original audience would have read straight through from Chapter 1. The earlier chapters made a gradual, detailed case about Jesus having been a great high priest of sorts. Something that actual, ancient Hebrews would have related to more readily than we.

Then, a roll call of sorts begins in the next several chapters. The writer recounts all of the heroes they have benefited from in the faith. Stories of displacement, slavery and sacrifice abound, with episodes of heroism sprinkled in. Tales of working hard to establish a land. Then, always being in danger as a relatively small nation of being overrun by neighboring, larger empires.

Now, as Hebrews the book prepares to close, we get application of all these reminders. This is where we pick up for this week’s lesson. On and on through history, this was the Jewish story. But by the time of Christ, a new strife was born. Followers of Jesus were at odds often with their own kin or at least ethnic kinsmen. Persecution and dispersion was the order of the day. Life was hard for Christ-followers.

Still today, living in faith is challenging. What is here for us? The writer of Hebrews called upon his listeners to be cognizant that they were actually running a race. He called on them to cling to their faith and to run the race of faith with endurance.

We hear in verses one through three, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.”

Faith is where our hope emanates, because faith gives us reason to believe in an eternity. But faith doesn’t stop there. Faith gives us reason to hope that our today can be a better place, if we trust in God enough that we actually live according to God’s greatest hopes for Creation in the first place.

Faithfulness, he suggests, is demonstrated by these biblical heroes as holding fast to God’s promises. “But then, out of a conviction driven by this hope, these characters walked on in bold ways. They lived out what God was leading them to do because they believed in a people and even a time– a realm – that was far beyond them.

I’m not sure we are always as farsighted as we might need to be. I’m not sure we readily see the world in the same ways that God does. For so many, faith these days is a transaction. I’m not sure many of us allow our faith to be what God intended. God wants our faith to be a spiritual home for our living, not just for our eternity.

Homing pigeons and doves have long been used for communication and for symbolic release. A person I knew, who provides doves for release at funerals, told me one time, “They’ll be waiting for me when I get home. No matter where I release them, they have an uncanny navigational pull toward home.”

There’s no subtlety here for us to miss in the book of Hebrews. This is clear and compelling. In a sense, Hebrews calls upon you and me to do what a bird with a brain no bigger than a BB can do. To day after day, and moment after moment, follow our spiritual hearts home to God.