Home is where the heart is....
Home is where you hang your hat...
Home is the place where they have to take you in....
What does home mean to you? Does the word "home" conjure up visions of a place, a real piece of property where you can walk on the acreage and go into the house and experience a feeling of welcome there? Does the word "home" bring a feeling to you, a feeling of warmth, of welcome, of acceptance? Are you lucky enough to have a "home place" to visit even if you do not live there, a home place that has belonged to your family for generations past, where a house stands that has historical significance to you and your other family members?
I have know people who can relate to all of the questions asked above. They have a place to go to where it feels like home. They have people who still live in houses that have special significance to them or they can see the people on the land where they have visited before even if the house where they once lived is no longer there. They have a "home place" to return to to think about the past and imagine that it has to do with their future.
I am not so lucky. I grew up in three different homes and the one that my elderly mother lives in is one where I never lived as a child or young adult. I have no "home place" to go to. Even when I go to see my mother in her home, I am a guest there. I never feel completely "at home" but always feel I must ask permission before I do anything there because it is her home, not mine.
Children who grew up in military families and families with parents who had occupations that required them to move frequently may have this same feeling in their lives. We often feel like gypsies or strangers, even in places where we should belong.
The people called Israel were strangers in a foreign land when they resided in Babylonia. They never wanted to live there but their ancestors were kidnapped by the Babylonians and years later the children of those original captives were still stuck in captivity due to the actions of the Babylonian government. So, they mourned and wept and wished they could be back in the place where they thought they belonged--Israel.
Finally, God spoke through Isaiah to tell them that they would go home, and when they went home, even the very landscape would welcome them as they went home. The wilderness would blossom and the way would be made safe and straight so that they would not get lost along the way.
"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
They would soon be home, where they belonged, because God would make the way for them to come home, at last. Isaiah's writings are often idealistic and Utopian because they describe a perfect world where everything works out well. Deserts bloom. Paths are made straight. Valleys are lifted up and mountains made low. Lions get along with lambs. Little children have no fear of wild beasts and lead them along to follow them.
Even those who actually did "go home" when Cyrus, the King of Persia, finally gave the order for them to leave after he conquered the Babylonians, found the way hard and rough and found a pile of rubble waiting for them to repair after they made it to Jerusalem. The Babylonians had pretty much destroyed everything in sight when they had invaded the land decades before. It was up to Ezra and Nehemiah and others to repair the walls and rebuild the Temple and it took many more decades for that to be accomplished.
But, they were home, where they belonged, back in the holy city of Jerusalem, the city of David, where they felt a spirit that united them and gave them strength to make everything right again. Home may be all those things that I began with above because when you find your heart is in the same place that you hang your hat, then it may indeed be the place where others take you in when you are there. You may find the Shalom of God as you settle in to the place where God would have you to be, home, at last.