December 9, 2022

Make Eternity in God’s House Your “Home Among the Gum Trees”

Are your dreams for a warm, comfy home and rewarding lifestyle stopping you from serving Jesus wholeheartedly? It is an awkward question because for many of us in the West, the answer is probably a big fat yes. It certainly has been, and still is, a challenge for me!

When I was in my early twenties, I had a clear vision for what the home I would be living in as a ‘proper adult’ would look like. Lots of ferns, house plants and a terraced sunny balcony for sipping cups of tea were key features (I grew up in Australia). Preferably just around the corner from a hip coffee shop.

When I was 24, I made a decision that would mean working towards this dream home of my own would have to wait—I moved to London to work, travel and live a life of city buzz and culture.

Over the next 10 years, with that city buzz and culture came high rent, commuting costs, and a constant merry-go-round of different houses and housemates. I also got to know the very real heartache of being far from home and family. I continued to long for a real, proper adult home of my own.

There’s a song in Australia that we grow up singing, about a man who has travelled the world, but the place he adores the most is his “home among the gum trees”. For many homesick Aussies, these words strike a chord in our hearts. A longing for home.

More recently, I married a Christian minister from Scotland. When we met, he made it clear that his plans were to plant a new gospel church in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods of East Ayrshire—a housing scheme called Onthank. He believed that the real and lasting solution to the problems people faced in areas marked by economic, social and health deprivation was a local church, where godly Christians could live alongside and share the gospel of Jesus with people in the community.

Would I leave my London lifestyle that I had grown to love? Would I continue to remain away from my “home among the gum trees”, to marry this man and move to a neighbourhood far removed from what my longings for home looked like?

Well, we did get married, and I did come. Being crazy in love was the biggest (and probably most important) factor in my decision, but another major deciding factor for me was knowing that this life is not all there is when it comes to having our dreams fulfilled.

I want to share three challenges for Christians who, like me, might be reading this knowing their longings for home sometimes compete with their willingness to live sacrificially and wholeheartedly for Jesus.

  1. Let’s look to our eternal home to fully satisfy our dreams

Being a Christian means that this life is not all there is. A comfortable home in this life should not be what we are living for. If you are a Christian, you have a wonderful future and inheritance that you can look forward to, where all your longings for home will one day be perfectly fulfilled.

Jesus describes Heaven as being his Father’s house with many rooms. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3).

Psalm 23 reminds us that if we are Christians, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. If I am longing for a place to find belonging, warmth, safety and intimacy, I will find it when I am living in the same place as my loving saviour and friend, Jesus Christ.

Jesus told us to take up our crosses and follow him. That means making decisions that might (for some) mean losing our dream for a comfortable home in a lovely neighbourhood in this life. But we will gain something so much better in the life to come.

I need to catch myself when I start to wish I lived in a nicer home, or if I visit someone else’s home and envy them for it. Maybe this is something you also feel tempted by. We need to be careful of this sneaky idol. Christian, we need to keep repenting and asking our Heavenly Father to set our hearts on our eternal home with him.

We are only travellers, sleeping in temporary tents in this life, until we come to our permanent home with our Lord in Heaven!

  • Let’s look to our church family to be our homes in this life

If Heaven/the New Creation is described as God’s house in the Bible, that means that the church is God’s household (Ephesians 2:19).  We are family—brothers and sisters.

Part of the reason why I stayed so long in London rather than heading back to Australia after a couple of years like most Aussies do, is because my church became a real home and family for me. I put down roots, got stuck into church life and built beautifully intimate friendships with Christian brothers and sisters.

And since moving up to Scotland, the same is happening at my current local church. God knows we need a place to find warmth, safety, intimacy and belonging, which is why he so strongly tells us to commit to our church family in his Word, the Bible.

Don’t look to create the perfect lifestyle or circumstances to meet your longings for home, comfort and belonging. Put roots down and love your local church! We will help each other along as we travel towards our ultimate home together.

  • Consider supporting, or even joining, a 20schemes church-planting team

Before I met my husband, I respected the people who chose to live in hard places for the sake of the gospel, but I never would have considered packing up and moving to a Scottish scheme myself. And a lot of that refusal to even consider big life moves for the sake of the gospel was because of how precious my dreams of a comfy and lovely home were to me. Even if I didn’t want to admit that to myself.

Every Christians circumstances are different, and there may be very good reasons why God has placed you where you are. We need godly Christians in all neighbourhoods and all walks of life, to shine the light of the gospel of Jesus into all the world. But do consider that Scotland’s schemes are some of the most unreached places in the UK.

There may be Christians reading this who are feeling a niggle. A sense that this might be something that the Lord is asking you to think and pray about.

People living in Scotland’s housing schemes need godly, mature Christians committed to putting down roots in local, gospel churches. Christians who are willing to do life alongside people in communities who may have been shunned and ignored by society, and even the church, for decades. Is this a move you could consider for you and your family?

If this is something that you might be feeling called to prayerfully consider, don’t let your dreams or longings for a perfect home in this life get in your way of coming. You don’t need to be a gifted evangelist, or be working in a particular ministry, or to even have a special calling. All you need is to trust in God’s plans, provision, goodness and promises, and to come join a local church or church-planting team.

This may well be how you could take up your cross and follow Jesus—by loving the least, the last and the lost by moving to where they are. Those who lose their lives in this life will gain a wonderful home dwelling with a wonderful Heavenly Father who loves them beyond words in the life to come. And to keep us going in this life, we have local church families to encourage and support us as we journey towards that final home.

Oh, and one last thing—I have found doing life in a Scottish scheme, getting to know people who live in Onthank, and partnering with others committed to the vision of local, gospel churches in Scotland’s housing schemes has actually increased my joy and contentment. So come join us—a move like this is really not as bad as you might fear!

Miriam and her husband Paul Harkess are looking to plant a church in the scheme of Onthank on the edge of Kilmarnock. For this to happen they need your prayerful, financial & physical support.

Could you give to the Christmas Challenge and help grow the work the Lord is doing in Onthank?

Click here or the link below to find out more.

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