It’s that line we pray together with the kids at night, that we pray Sunday mornings in our little country church, just as Jesus taught us we pray, “thy kingdom come … on earth as it is in heaven.” But just how much heaven can we ever experience on this troubled earth? This is the question Christie Purifoy found waiting for her in a rambling, crumbling, but beautiful old farmhouse called Maplehurst. It’s a grace to welcome the beautiful writing and wisdom of Christie to the farm’s front porch today…
All of my life I have heard sincere believers say this world is not our home.
As long as I wandered – from suburb to city to yet another suburb – I accepted this. Isn’t it written that we are “foreigners and exiles”?
But I was so tired of wandering.
On the day I first drove down the long tree-lined driveway that links a country road with the front porch of an old red-brick house, I wanted only to come home.
I did not know if this was possible.
Is homesickness simply our lot in life? Whether we have been given a roof over our heads or not?
It was early autumn when we began the work of making a 135-year-old house into our home.
The towering maple trees along the driveway still cast their flickering, silvery green shade, but the cherry trees near the fence were tossing yellow leaves across the grass, like overeager flower girls at a wedding.
God once promised Israel He would plant them “in their own land, never again to be uprooted” (Amos 9:15). We hoped that we, too, had been planted the way a gardener buries daffodil bulbs in fall.
Six weeks after we unloaded the moving van, I gave birth to a daughter. She was our fourth child and our second girl, and with hope in our hearts we named her Elsa Spring.
Every one of us knows that winter must come before spring.
We know that hunger precedes every good feast. Our faith is built on the sure knowledge that resurrection comes only after death, but also that it always does come.
I was buried that first winter. Buried by depression, anxiety, loneliness, and a list of home repairs so long I worried we’d never know rest in this place.
I felt as homesick as ever, but I had nowhere else to go. Our prayer to be planted was also our commitment to stay. I knew that the road home, if it could be found, could not be found in any place other than this.
Resurrection is a miracle, and resurrection is a gift. But resurrection is also the work of our days.
It is the seeds we order from the catalog while snow blows against the window pane.
It is the baby apple tree, more like an apple stick, we dig into the ground in early spring.
It is the invitation to a neighborhood Easter egg hunt that we drop nervously on the doorstep of one more neighbor whom we have never met.
It is every moment when we grasp hope and let go of despair.
Resurrection waits for us on the other side of death. On the other side of fear. On the other side of the great, flying leap into the unknown. Resurrection is our return to life.
Resurrection is our homecoming.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “… here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). For years I read those words and felt burdened by what I did not have, but that first spring at Maplehurst I realized how sweet it could be to watch for the heavenly city to come.
When a hundred daffodils suddenly bloomed along the driveway or when a hundred neighbors joined us for an Easter egg hunt on our lawn, I caught sight of it. These were glimpses of my forever home. Here was heaven in our midst.
This world is our home. Our bodies, formed of dust, were always intended for a life on earth. The great promise has always been, not that we would go to live with God, but that God would come to make His home with us.
If we are homesick it is because our home is not yet as it will one day be.
We catch sight of it here and there. We hear the word shalom whispering in the treetops.
We take up our spades, we reach out to our neighbors, and we make room for it. We cast seeds, and we plant heaven on earth.
Then we watch and wait for the day when we will reap the harvest God has grown.
One day, as we read in 2 Peter, God will cleanse this world with fire, as He once cleansed it with floodwaters. And the earth will be like a mountain meadow after a raging forest fire.
Everything old and decayed will have gone, and our resurrected eyes will be dazzled by the new, beautiful green of spring.
How much of heaven can we experience here on earth?
The answer I have found at Maplehurst is: More every day.
The seasons return to greet us, but we are not the same and the world is not quite the same because God has given more of heaven and more of Himself.
God abides with us beneath a canopy of autumn glory and right there in the stickiness of summer’s heat.
In the dark and quiet grief of winter and in the unexpected mercies of spring, Father, Son, and Spirit make their home with us (John 14:23).
God has come even to this crumbling house, this spacious place, called Maplehurst.
The wooden gate is unlocked.
The front door is propped open.
And you, too, are welcome here.
In lyrical, contemplative prose, Christie’s just-released book, Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons, unveils the trials and triumphs of her family’s first year at Maplehurst. Christie invites you into the heartache and joy of small beginnings and the wonder of a God who would make His home with us. Anyone who has felt the longing for home, who yearns to reconnect with Him and is awed by the beauty of nature, and who values the special blessing of deep relationships with family and friends will love finding themselves in this story of earthly beauty and soaring hope. A truly exquisite read to revisit again and again.
[ Our humble thanks to Revell for their partnership in today’s devotion ]