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 Our Journey Home

   As we journey through our lives, we constantly attempt to "be" someone. Everyone wonders who they are when they are young; and most people try to be good, when older. How do we determine what it takes to be a good person, except by obeying the law? We measure ourselves against others. We evaluate ourselves using other peoples' opinions of us as gauges. But it is spiritually pitiful and meaningless to judge ourselves with other human being's opinions. It is God's opinion of us that counts.

   Growing up, I never measured myself against anyone, because our family lived a very isolated life. I was a child of great imagination, who read and wrote and ran and climbed trees. A child who had elaborate doll families, and a rich life inside my mind. I was rarely lonely, because both of my parents were always busy with their own projects, and my own mind was always so busy. I was barely aware that other people lived any differently than we did. Before eleven years old, I wrote the equivalent of two entire books, by hand, about a family with many children, and their adventures and experiences. I have those books still.

   Many people never feel that they have a calling, and are never sure what God wants them to do. Even those who are His children, are often confused on this issue. But God gave me a single-tracked mind, fixed upon children, and a very clear calling.

   A mother was all I ever wanted to be. God planted that seed in my mind at a very young age, and it grew and grew. Even so, little did I dream what He had planned for me! Such a marvelous family He gave me, through adoption, year after year. God gave me a very large family, and great joy and satisfaction in motherhood. He guided my children to Himself, through me, and one by one, they were born again, and saved. How I praise the Lord, for my children's salvation!

   I did get to know other large adoptive families like mine, as the years went by, and they were good friend; but most of my life was my children. We were a community all by ourselves. We were the family on the block that other children enjoyed coming and spending time with. Everyone always had someone to play with. Our family was generally noisy, happy, and full of laughter and togetherness. It was a wonderful place to be.

   I did read, write, and enjoyed going to book stores. I took my children to church every Sunday. I watched the nine o'clock movie many nights, twenty or so years ago back when there WAS a decent movie to be found. This was when I was a young mother, and all my children were asleep by then. I was happy and honored to give my life to the children God had given me. I knew it was my calling, from the very beginning. I knew it was the mission God had given me. It was a blessing so great, that I could not describe it. Motherhood was my career. Motherhood was my life. I loved it.

   One wonderful young boy - the best friend of one of my sons, spent two years living with us. His family was only blocks away, but in turmoil at the time. He loved them, and they loved him. I talked to his mother occasionally, and I never asked questions. He cheerfully ran errands for his mother whenever she called. But he went to school from our home, came home from school to our home, ate, played, talked, slept, and generally, was like a brother to my children, and a son to me. I still love him, pray for him, and wonder how he is doing. He must be thirty-two or three by now. He still feels like a child of mine, though he never was. That was typical of many blessings God brought to us, through children who weren't even my own.

   Nothing could have prepared me for life when my children were no longer young. Having my children grow up changed my world. I did have adult children with mental disabilities still living with me, but they were largely independent in our home, and naturally did not need me in the same way. Most of them had very little to say, and all of their thoughts were simple and few. They were dear and beloved, and always would be. But my focus in life had been unexpectedly changed. Enormously changed.

   No small person needed my lap any more. No small person was left to listen with baited breath and sparkling eyes, to my stories. No longer did my children burst into the house in excitement, to tell me something that had happened in their lives. No young teen was left to come and ask me questions galore, late at night, when time opened up for them, and their thoughts were running deep.

   I did not have resources or knowledge to call upon, to form a future without children. I had no idea what to do. I couldn't go out into the world and find something to do, or volunteer somewhere, because my adult children could not be left alone. I loved them dearly, but it wasn't the same. My nest had no babies in it any more. When people speak of the "empty nest syndrome", they are describing a tiny pebble on the wide shore of rocks that was my life, when my children were grown. My empty nest was enormous, and miserably lonely. I felt lost for years.

   But I stumbled through my lostness, reaching out my hands for the Lord to hold, and He steadied my faltering footsteps. I began to ask God, searching to find out what I was supposed to do with the life I still had. The moment of now, and the years to come. Obviously God's purpose for my life had not been completed yet.

   To my great surprise, little by little, I began to realize that, at least for a few years, He simply wanted me to be still, and draw close to Him. He wanted me to write down the spiritual lessons He had taught me over the years, and most particularly, the ones He was teaching me now.

   After a lifetime of such intense activity, this quietness had appeared useless. It was astounding when I began to realize that God's purpose for me, for the time being, was to be like Mary in the Bible. I was to sit at Jesus' feet, and listen, through the Holy Spirit, learning many things I had never known before. And as I learned, and slowly grew spiritually, I increasingly felt His pleasure in my open heart, His loving mercy in my eager mind, as I absorbed all that He was teaching me. He was enriching my heart. He had grafted a new branch onto the old tree, and it was producing new fruit. New fruit of the spirit was growing, ripening, getting sweeter, and getting ready to be picked.

   What He will use this fruit for, I am not certain. But I'm writing it all down, and so many hours day and night of writing, month after month - stretching into years now - have made me feel like I'm working on a dissertation for a doctoral degree. It is richly stimulating, rewarding, challenging, and deeply absorbing.

   All my life, I had been giving. Now, I was to be still, and to daily take from my Father's wisdom, learning something new. It was so very different than anything I had ever experienced, except for a few short periods of time in my life.

   Growing older, we who love the Lord grow richer, fuller, and more beautiful in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. Did He consider us lovely when we were young, lithe, slender, and full of hopes and dreams that had mostly to do with our own lives? Not compared with this older time, once our hopes and dreams have become much more involved with Him, than ourselves.

   For our bodies have nothing to do with anything in God's eyes, except, of course, that they are the houses where our spirits reside while we're on the earth, and we are supposed to take care of them.

   Most of my children were born with disabilities of one sort or another. But not one had a deficient spirit. Being born with a handicap has no affect on our spirits. No one is born with a handicapped spirit. All of our spirits are whole and intact at the moment of our conception.

   We all have the capacity to come to know our Heavenly Father. I believe that even people who are profoundly retarded, without words or understanding, have a God-given awareness of Jesus' love. Their spirits are perfectly whole, even if their bodies and minds are not. God is perfectly able to reach them, just as the sun's light and warmth reaches them, and He does. God loves them just as much as He loves us, and, like babies and little children, because they will not become able to reach the "age of understanding" in their minds, God will gather them into His arms in Heaven, in His time, and they will at last know perfection in every way.

   But we who are given normal intellectual ability, have major challenges in life, regarding our lives beyond this world, for eternity. Not only do we have to make a decision, to either accept Christ as our Saviour, or reject Him; but also, after becoming His child, to either walk with Him, or ignore Him. He allows us to have our own choices. He does not have any wish for robots. He desires the sincere love of His children.

   It is our spirits that are of keen interest to God, and are intensely scrutinized by Him. As our bodies age, we get closer and closer to leaving this earth. Thus, as time passes, those of us who are children of God, find our spirits moving nearer to our Saviour, and the time when we will be transported to His physical presence in Heaven at last. As I grow older, I look forward to it more and more. I believe that God looks forward to this very much as well. What loving father would not look forward to his beloved daughter coming home, so he could fold her in his arms and talk with her, and they could both enjoy each other's company! So it is, I believe, with God, looking forward to each of His children's homecoming.

   When our grown children are out in the world, we love to hear what they are doing; we love to help them when they need us; we are happy when they are happy. So it must be with God. He gave us our lives, He gave us this earth. He loves to watch to see if we are willing to learn, and to communicate with us through the Holy Spirit, teaching us. He loves to help us when we ask Him to. He loves for us to be happy. He has work for us to do for Him, and it pleases His heart, when we follow His will, and accomplish what He plans for us to do.

   Every breath we take, every minute that we exist, every hour we experience, our lives ARE our journey home. All of life here, for God's children, is aimed toward Heaven. All of life IS that journey home. Just like while we sit in a vehicle, as it moves toward its destination, every breath, every moment, every hour is part of our journey home. That vehicle may break down, and we must have it repaired, or board another to continue on, but the whole experience is still the same journey.

   Certainly, as frail human beings, we do take wrong turns and get lost, but God's map, the Bible, is always available to consult. God is always there, ready to guide us back to the correct road. When we fail, and repent, God forgives us. Praise God for that! He is beside each of His children all the way, on their journey home to Him.

   The famous hymn writer Fanny Crosby spoke of our Heavenly home as "the summer land":

   We shall reach the summer land,
Some sweet day, by and by;

   I too, like to think of Heaven as the summer land, even though I love snow, and feel certain that there will be snow somewhere there! All our wounds will be healed. We will find our broken links, be reunited with those of God's children whom we lost on earth; and God will give us vision to understand everything clearly at last.

   By and by, some sweet day,
We shall meet our loved ones gone,
Some sweet day, by and by.

    At the crystal river's brink,
Some sweet day, by and by,
We shall find each broken link,
Some sweet day, by and by,

Then the star that, fading here,
Left our hearts and homes so drear,
We shall see more bright and clear,
Some sweet day, by and by.

Fanny Crosby 1887

   When our work on earth is through, what joy we will experience, at our final homecoming! How I praise the Lord, for His everlasting love!

2005 Rosemary Gwaltney