Today I travel to Montana to visit my mom, siblings and a few of my nieces and nephews. It is interesting that, after 35 years, I still call Montana “home.” I grew up just a short drive from West Glacier, the gateway to Glacier National Park, pictured above.
So what makes a place “home?” It’s more than the geography. Home is the place of our family affection. It is the place that nurtures us, protects us, forms us. For me that happened in Big Sky Country.
I grew up on a farm with 80 acres of tillable land and 80 acres of conifer woods along the Flathead River. Summer days found me mowing lawn, pulling weeds in the garden or harvesting produce to preserve for winter. If we couldn’t grow it in the garden or raise it in the barn, we rarely ate it. Milking cows, gathering eggs, making butter were all regular activities. Mom even tried her hand at cheese which wasn’t very successful. We bought cheese.
When the work was finished, my sister and brother and I went to the woods. Many days we played among the trees building forts, running from imaginary enemies or conquering the wild west. If the river was low enough, we made our way to the water’s edge and walked up and down the banks of the river. There was an old car in the river and we frequently played in it. There were so many things to imagine and discover!
Our farm consisted of the farmhouse where we lived and an odd assortment of outbuildings. My dad saved everything so it was a continual treasure hunt to play in the buildings. There was an unused garage next to the house that protected the most wonderful layers of discarded items. Sometimes we would gather our courage and clear out some space to play inside the building. It felt like the boxcar children everyday!
Another of my favorite summer activities was huckleberry picking. A huckleberry is similar to a blueberry, but unlike it in so many ways. The berry is much smaller, shiny and more tart than a blueberry. It is wild and grows on low scrubby bushes in the mountains. You have to hunt for them. Of course, we had our favorite patches. Mom would let us pick and sell ours to make a little money. At the time, a gallon of berries sold for $16. That was more than thirty years ago. We thought we had won the lottery when we were able to sell a gallon. (The berries are currently selling for $65/pound. Check here for other huckleberry facts.)
Of course, things have changed since I left home 36 years ago. My father passed away, Mom moved off the farm, my brother farms the tillable land, the woods is protected. But we still visit the farm and wander the woods and we still pick huckleberries.
A few years ago, returning to Indiana from a visit to Montana, I knew I was coming HOME. I thought about my own children and their heritage. Indiana is their home. It is their place of family affection. It is where their earliest memories formed; it is the place they forged their way and became their own person.
There is another home I look forward to going some day. Jesus said:
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.John 14:1-3
Although I haven’t seen heaven, I experience Jesus on a daily basis. He promised to go and prepare a place just for me. But he also promised to always be with me here. He hasn’t left me abandoned. We can speculate what heaven will be like; there are even books written on what we can expect. And then I am reminded of the scripture that says “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can imagine what God has prepared for those who love him.” ( 1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:4)
I think heaven will be like Montana with rugged mountains, clear, cold water, blue endless skies. There will be forests to discover, rivers to run, treasures to find. The berries will be abundant; adventure will be endless.
Today might look really gloomy to you. Tragedy may have struck, bills due, discord knocks. Whatever it is, I invite you to turn your eyes toward home. Remember that the glory that awaits you far outweighs anything you might experience today. And it is your choice where you fix your gaze.
Today, on the other hand, might shine brighter than the sun. Prosperity landed, abundance is yours, peace reigns. I invite you to turn your eyes toward home as well. Nothing you experience here compares to the glory of what is prepared for you for eternity. Don’t let shiny things here turn your eyes away from the splendor of HOME!
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you peace.Numbers 6:24-26