Nothing like a good Christmas song to make the season bright: “I’ll be home for Christmas…if only in my dreams.” Most of you are not home for Christmas, and some of you are not even sure where home is, after years of mission service and perhaps a lot of moving. But there’s just something about Christmas that makes us long for the familiar, as much as we may enjoy wherever we are.
A story is told of a missionary who left his wealthy, comfortable home for a very poor country far away. There were tears in his father’s eyes as they said goodbye, but a smile on his face as he thought of the lives his son would touch. The missionary’s friends did not completely understand why he would leave his beautiful home for this strange, uncivilized country. After all, the missionary was rich. Couldn’t he just send some money or send someone else to go for him? But the missionary knew he needed to go himself to make the greatest impact, and to understand the people better in that distant land, so he could better show them God’s love. As the missionary left, the friends noticed that he carried no luggage or money—only the clothes on his back, which would be exchanged for the villagers’ rags as soon as he arrived.
The missionary showed up in a small, depressing village, unnoticed and unexpected, except by a few who were still searching for hope. As he lived out his life in that foreign land, he often longed for the familiar comforts of home. Even though he was able to stay in communication with his father, it wasn’t the same as looking into his eyes and feeling his embrace. The missionary missed his friends back home who really understood him, and knew where he came from. But with encouragement from his father, he did what he felt called to do: live among the people, as one of them, loving them unconditionally. He ate their food, dressed in their dress, spoke their language. He played with their children, discussed with their elders, brought healing and comfort to their sick and injured. He used illustrations from their culture and natural surroundings to help them understand what God was like, and what God wanted for them. There were plenty of challenges—being misunderstood and even hated because he was different—his message was different, and it threatened the traditions of their ancestors. In the end, it cost him his life. The missionary died in a foreign land, and most of the villagers never recognized the sacrifice he made to bring salvation to their people. But for the few who did understand, a revolution began that changed their world.
That Missionary was Jesus. And thankfully, He did not stay buried in that foreign land. He lives in Heaven as One who truly understands. He does not send His followers from their homes, from their comfort zones, without already having done it Himself. If anyone understands the sacrifices you have made and are making for the Gospel and the people you are serving, it is Jesus. He knows what it is like to miss home, to miss those you love so much. But He also learned during His mission to earth what Home truly is—to be in the presence of the Father, no matter where you are or what you have been called to do.
If there is anything I wish for each of you, it is that you will live in the presence of your Father, and know that feeling of Home. Thanks to the first Missionary, we all have a place to call Home and a Father to come Home to—now, and for eternity. So you really can be Home for Christmas, and not just in your dreams.
“The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.” John 1:14 (CEV)
Twice a month, we send out a short devotional to our volunteers.