by James Collins
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20
On an overcast day, we gathered to mourn the death of Tammy Combs. Her metallic gray casket sat toward the front of our hometown church. Flower arrangements of pinks, yellows, reds, and purples surrounded it.
The church that had seemed so big to me as a child, now seemed so small. It was crowded with people who had known her, who had loved her, and who still did. The pews filled up quickly. Latecomers sat in folding chairs in the aisles and along the back wall. Those who couldn’t find a seat stood in silence in the foyer. Grief is shared best in silence.
The old preacher walked up on the platform and stood tall in the pulpit behind the casket. He read Scripture in a baritone voice, “…that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” His funeral sermon was filled with words of comfort. He ended by saying, “And she lives on.”
When the preacher finished speaking, a recording of Tammy singing The Old Rugged Cross was played. Throughout her life, Tammy often sang in church. Now in her death, she sang there again.
I grew up with Tammy, but I hadn’t seen her in years. We stayed in touch only through Facebook. It took her funeral to bring me back home. Over twenty years had passed since I had stepped foot in our hometown church. After high school graduation, I joined the U.S. Army. Trips back home became less frequent. Everything seemed so different. The place had changed.
The church was filled with people from my youth. I didn’t recognize many of them. Some didn’t recognize me. Age has caught up with us. Everyone seemed so different. The people have changed.
Somehow, I feel different. When I left home, I was lost. Then Jesus Christ found me, and He saved my soul. I am different. I have changed.
There is an old saying: You can’t go home again. I think I understand that saying a little better now. The old hometown will never again be the same place I left all those years ago. I will never again be the same boy who left all those years ago. That home exists only in my memory.
When I think about home, I don’t think so much about a place. When I think of home, I think of people. I think about my wife, Amanda, and our children. They make home – home. At least, on this earth.
However, this world is not my home. The Bible says that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your citizenship is in heaven. When I think of my future home, I think of a Person. I think about Jesus. He makes heaven – heaven.
The point is: All of us are pilgrims on a journey in this land. Someday, if the Lord tarries, each of us will die and go to our eternal home. If you belong to Jesus, then you’ll be with Him in a home called heaven. If you don’t belong to Jesus, then you’ll spend eternity separated from Him in a home called hell. The choice is yours.
The death of my friend, Tammy, has made me homesick. Not for a small town in Southeast Oklahoma. No. I am homesick for heaven. I am homesick to be with Jesus.
My heart longs for home.
James Collins is pastor, columnist, and author. You can write to him by email at email@example.com.