“It might take months, even years,” my husband warned me, as we decided together to sell our house. I shook my head. I knew the drill. The house I owned before we were married took two real estate agents and two years on the market before someone bought it. I understood the ups and downs of selling and buying a home. But regardless of the timeline, we knew it was the right decision.
What we could never have predicted, though, was that the months of deciding to sell took longer than actually selling the house. Within just a few weeks the entire transaction was finished. Our move was the stuff real estate agents dream about: a home sold and a home purchased within days of each other, two families happily resettling.
But the joy of a new home was dampened by the realistic process of moving. Does anyone actually like paring down and packing, upending and then unpacking? Though it happened quickly, for several weeks all we could think about was filling boxes, calling utility companies, arranging inspections, and trying to remember where we stowed the blow-up mattress and the vegetable chopper.
Just days after we settled into our new home, my mother struggled through her own move. For nearly 30 years, my mom and stepdad not only made a home for themselves on the 80-acre plot, but they also had constructed barns and developed the tillable acres and fenced in pastures. The land had offered them a livelihood until cancer made farming difficult for DeWayne, then impossible with his death. Mom was overwhelmed with taking care of things on her own, but she was devastated at the thought of leaving.
Eventually, reason won out over sentiment. She bought a brick, ranch-style house in town where she would be surrounded by friends and easily able to take manage her own home. My husband and I thought our move was a challenge—at least there were two of us to do the work. For my recently-widowed mom, the details of moving on her own were paralyzing.
During car trips back and forth between the two houses on Mom’s moving day, I considered all that went into resettling. It’s not just the moving that’s stressful, I realized. It’s all that goes into preparing a new home. Houses are places we live, where we build our lives. Homes are about making space for the people we love.
When it came down to it, the weeks of stress weren’t resolved by getting everything in its place. Instead, it was more about getting us back into a place where we belonged.
In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus nudges us toward that same type of focus when we think about our eternal home.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In other words, Jesus wants us to think carefully about what we’re accumulating. It’s tempting to amass a lot of possessions during our days on earth, but Jesus says only what’s truly important—the things we’ve done for Him—will last. And in the end, when we get to the eternal home we are anticipating, everything else will already be in its place.
In John 14:1-4, Jesus also says that we aren’t preparing for our eternal home alone, despite the temptation to think it’s up to us. In fact, He is the one planning our move.
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.
We can be tempted to think that what we do on earth is what secures our place in heaven, but no one can bear that burden. Jesus wants us to get ready for our final move in a different way: by trusting Him instead of ourselves. He’s the one who has gone ahead to prepare our new home for us. He’s turning on the utilities and scheduling the furnace maintenance and putting away the vegetable chopper, so to speak.
Just a few days ago, a friend came to our new house for lunch. I gave her the grand tour, then heated up leftover soup and served no-bake cookies. Preparing to leave, she said, “It’s amazing how quickly you’ve made this a home.”
I wonder if I’ll say the same thing to Jesus one day.
Originally published at In Touch Magazine on September 9, 2015.