It was a misty morning and we were on a special “assignment.” We had special instructions, and watched the odometer carefully as we drove. When we arrived at the spot the special packages which I brought from California, were placed into a backpack. We looked up the hill and decided we were in the right place so we snapped a family photo. There was no trail, and being in my 60’s and recovering from bronchitis, I huffed and puffed the 150 feet up the hill, to find the bear paw meadow per my dad’s instructions. I checked the photos he had given me 30 years ago. The trees were much smaller then, but the mountains looked the same. It was a puzzle to solve. The mission: Find the area my parents described in their wills so we could fulfill their wishes. Dad and Mom both wrote the same thing,
“…that my ashes should be scattered in a tiny part of Jackson Hole, Wyoming…I refer to this location as ‘Paul’s Place’ for that is where my son, Paul had requested his own ashes be placed, and where thy do indeed rest. Erect no marker or locator where my ashes lay for the natural flora and fauna will do just that.”
This was a precious time for us in that bear paw meadow, facing the Teton range, as we laid beloved parents, grandparents and great-grandparents to rest. Ryan read Psalm 23, and Jon thanked God for their lives. They passed away in 2014, so it felt really good and satisfying to bring their bodies “HOME” to the place they loved so much.
Home. What is home really, anyway? For me, home is where my loved ones are, or were, or the places that hold sweet memories. Going back to a childhood home or vacation spot, teaches that these places are not really home. Recreating an experience from the past is not possible. You can’t really ‘go back.’ Things change, loved ones go, and time marches on. But this is not sad. Home is not really here in this world.
Our Dwelling Place
In Psalm 90, Moses called the Lord "our dwelling place in all generations."
Moses and the Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years. They pitched their tents and packed them up over and over. That generation never had a permanent home. Moses said “Lord, You have been our dwelling place…”
Home Sweet Home
Because of Gary's illness, we had to downsize, leaving our beloved home where we thought we'd spend the rest of our lives. It was sad, but good for us. We were forced to cling to God instead of a place and lived in the love of our Savior who loves completely and unconditionally. He helped us face the very scary unknowns of the future with courage rather than fear. The most important "comforts of home" went with us, because Jesus lives in Gary and I. Jesus said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." He meant it. For a Christian, "true" home is a person, not a place. It's Jesus Christ, who loved me first. "We love Him because He first loved us." He paid the penalty for my sins, dying on the cross, and made me one of his own children, while I was His enemy. Then He went rose again, and went to Heaven where He has building a home for me and Gary is already there!
“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." John 14:2-3
Someday my family will take my ashes to the Central Coast, per my wishes. What’s left of my body will be “home” in the same place as Gary’s. But we will not be there. Not really. We will be at home with the Lord, in heaven, because home is where God is. The days go by so quickly. Before you know it, you're within the waning years of your life. Moses had such a wonderful perspective as he prayed. May we value the days as Moses did, and look to God for His favor, in light of what we truly deserve.
Psalm 90 - a Prayer of Moses
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
You turn man back into dust
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night.
You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;
In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it fades and withers away.
For we have been consumed by Your anger
And by Your wrath we have been dismayed.
You have placed our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
For all our days have declined in Your fury;
We have finished our years like a sigh.
As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
Who understands the power of Your anger
And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Do return, O Lord; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.
O satisfy us in the morning with Your loving kindness,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,
And the years we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.