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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Castle Sweet Castle”

While Twilight Sparkle may have suffered the loss of the Golden Oak Library, she didn’t have to be homeless for more than an hour or so before she had a new, larger, grander, and more spectacular place to live in. Yet in spite of that, the emptiness of the halls, the newness and “classiness” of the decor, and the large void of warmth and personalization soon caused Twilight to avoid the place all together in favor of staying with her friends. It wasn’t the library; the place where she had made all of her new friendships and her memories along with them. As grand as it was, it was just a building…not a home.

This illustrates an important concept. Whenever we hear of a disaster such as a tornado, wildfire, mudslide, or whatever demolishing a house but sparing the occupants, we tend to think of that as a good ending. After all, no lives were lost and lives can’t be replaced. Houses always can be as well as the possessions inside them. That’s very true, but aside from the loss of material goods and their monetary value, the fact is a house can only be replaced in the sense that the world is full of buildings that provide four walls and a roof. A “home” is far more precious.

A home is something that you’ve passed years in and that you’ve watched age along with you. It’s where all the little nicks in the floor and chips of paint get their own story, and all the modifications, whether to the garden or adding a new floor tile or carpet, were all touches you made to make it suit you better. It’s the environment you’ve gotten used to and gotten used to seeing your family in. The rooms aren’t simply a “bedroom”, “kitchen”, or “living room”…they become the spaces that were personally yours and the sites of important events. A home provides a sense of being and “grounding”; an origin you can go from and come back to. No matter how grand of a vacation you take or where you stay, provided that the place you’re coming back to is “a home”, it always seems more welcoming and inviting.

Extending that concept even further we come to the idea of a “homeland”. Most people in the USA and the western world don’t really have a concept for what this is, because to us it’s taken for granted. We always look at our surroundings and expect them to always be there. No matter what happens, we still expect the same environment more or less every day. We expect the same streets we went down as a kid, the same landmarks we used to hang out at, the same schools and institutions we attended, and the same government and national philosophy hanging over it. At least for Americans, many of us are very oblivious to the sense of culture and identity that our country gives us. That’s likely the same place a “homeland” gives to all people. For many, even if you move somewhere else in the country, no matter where you go in the back of your mind you still have the notion: “I may be a stranger here, but this is the land of my country”. And even if you go overseas or emigrate somewhere else, there’s always the sense no matter where you go the “land of your birth” is still there, and still provides a roots and origin for you.

Then there are many in the world who know what it is like to lose their homeland, and suddenly find themselves strangers in a strange land with nothing to go back to. Not just disaster victims, but more importantly political refugees and those forced to flee their country, or see their country fall and be changed into a new form or even multiple separate nations. I can only imagine the sense of what that is like…to know where you came from is suddenly gone one day, and with it a part of your sense of identity.

It’s small wonder that people of the world attach such great importance to historical ruins and pilgrimages to them, especially if historically they have been displaced. Even if a ruin and obsolete to most, it’s a place of heritage and origin for people; a sense of the legacy that they came from. On a smaller scale, I remember how my grandmother used to like taking road trips back to where she lived as a child. It was in the middle of an overgrown forest on chert roads, and the building itself was a worn down, rotted shack that was too dangerous to even set foot inside due to snakes, but she still wanted to see it. She wanted to see where she had come from and know it was still standing after all these years. What the two things have in common is that even if property or a “home” is ultimately a material good, it’s important to the sense of one’s identity and legacy. A sense that “this is where I came from, and is still here even when I am gone”.

Perhaps this is why the Bible speaks of Heaven in terms of the same “Promised Land” that was promised to the descendants of Abraham. This was, and is, important to the Jewish people as the land was the ultimate sign of the covenant between God and them. This was the destiny that was promised to the patriarch of the Jewish people, and the loss of the land during the Babylonian Exile was considered tragic as it was seen as the abandonment of the Jewish people by God. Likewise, the promise to restore the nation and establish it everlasting was not so much a new promise as a renewal of the old one; even the sense of being “re-adopted” by God as Father and the people as his children.

In the same sense, Christians too have the same promise as “adopted descendants of Abraham”. Purchased by Jesus’ Blood at Cavalry, we are now described as heirs to the promise as well for our own true home in Heaven. And just as a wayfarer or sojourner in another land knows that their true identity stems from and lies with their homeland, so too do we know that our own destiny and our new origin as a “new creation” in Christ comes from Heaven as well.”For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)

And just as Twilight’s friends made the castle be more like home for her, may we too, with the knowledge of our true dwelling and origin, aspire to bring the Kingdom of God to this world now in this present day and age.”And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3)

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that whenever I feel lost, alone, and abandoned in this world, I have the blessed assurance that no matter where I find myself I have a home in Heaven.Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”