All eight of us are coming and going a lot more than usual this summer. Trips with friends, camps, vacations, competitions, a funeral, and travel for work. Not to mention packing the oldest off to college in a mere month! The word homesick has come up more than a few times.
It started when my seven year old ventured to his very first overnight camp. "Mom!" the older ones said, "He's seven! We didn't go to overnight camp until MUCH LATER!"
True enough. Parenting the youngest looks nothing like parenting the oldest.
(In my defense, he was only away three nights and his older brother was there too, as were friends and parents from our church. Not to mention he begged to go and gets easily bored when the house is too quiet).
All that aside, he did get homesick. Just a bit. Fully expected.
My second daughter and I were away from home for sixteen days because we combined her trip to the USA Acrobatic Gymnastics Nationals competition with our family vacation. We were both homesick by the end. Missing our own beds, our non-vacation routines, all the stuff of home.
Also fully expected.
And currently my two middle boys are at camp about as far away from us as you can get while remaining in same country. They're on the border of Canada and we're basically in Mexico. Last night the camp nurse called to say the younger one had an allergic reaction to something he got into in the woods and needed medical attention. Nothing severe, not as bad as he's had it before. But still. He's not at home, and I can't help him. Not at all expected.
Whether we expect it or not, even whether we're at home or not, homesickness is part of the human condition. Even in the comfort of own little piece of property, we are not truly at home. God has "set eternity in our hearts" (Ecclesiastes 3:11) so that we would always long for our true home. Our home with Him. Nothing feels like home but coming home to Him.
When we get too filled up with the luxuries of the world—the comforts of home—we numb that feeling of homesickness meant to lead us to the Lord. Clearing out the spiritual and material clutter through prayer or fasting or worship is recognizing the longing for our true homes: "fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God" (John Piper).
Being away so much this summer has reminded me that I want to be more homesick, not less. Homesick for Him. Homesick for my "first love" (Revelation 2:4). Homesick for the things that truly bring comfort in this life and the one to come.