Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

August 24, 2008


A home is a blessing we should not take for granted


          Watching old people break up housekeeping is never easy for me. It saddens me to see people uprooted from their home and placed in a nursing home even when that seems the best thing to do.

          Of course something has to be done when people get so old they can no longer take care of themselves. I just wish there was some gentler, kinder way to remove people from their home and put them in an institution. Only rarely can children find a way to allow aged parents to live in their own home until their death.

          Most of us feel about home like my friend Mary does. I asked her one day if she given any thought to giving up her home and moving into one of the lovely “assisted living” homes in her city. Instantly she replied, “No sir; I will not leave this home until they carry me out with my toes turned up!”

          Like Mary I have decided to live in my present home until I die. I do not want to die in a hospital. Hospitals are a blessing, especially in America. Nurses and doctors for the most part are wonderful. I love to hear one of them speak of their work as a “calling” from God. Surely it is.

          Home has always been important to me. I was born in a home my father built with his own hands. I lived in that home until I left for college at age 18. Our son Steve and his family live in that home today; he remodeled it after my parents died. They lived in it until their death.

          Most preachers live in many houses during their ministry. My wife and I lived in more than twenty different homes during our pastoral service. Wanting during those years to have a place called “home,” we built a cabin near my dad’s place in 1960. The cabin finally became our home, and we have been remodeling it now for 48 years.

          Those of us who have a home should not take it for granted. I remind myself often to give thanks for our home. Millions of people have no home. There may be as many as one billion people in the world today who are homeless. There are more than three million homeless people in the United States, although that number is declining.

          Over the years I have visited hundreds of people in nursing homes. Without a doubt the most frequent comment made to me by nursing home residents is simply this, “I want to go home” or “Please take me home.” I would not want to live in a country that did not provide senior housing like nursing homes and assisted living homes. And we have some truly wonderful nursing homes in America. I deeply respect and admire the dedicated people who maintain and serve in our nursing homes.

          But there is evidently an innate desire in the human heart for home.

If we are not at home, we want to go home. The old saying, “There is no place like home,” has been uttered many times by anyone who has ever had a home. Perhaps God planted the desire for home in our hearts. There is a sense in which God Himself is “home.” So the human spirit is restless until it finds its way home to God.

          One of my favorite songs is “Going Home.” It touches deep places in my heart. In these days I am profoundly thankful for the home where I hope to live until I die. But the songwriter expresses feelings that I share about the home where I am going when my traveling days are done. You may like it too:

          Going home, going home, I’m just going home. Quiet light, some still day, I’m just going home. It’s not far, just close by, through an open door. Work all done, care laid by, going to fear no more. Mother’s there expecting me, Father’s waiting, too. Lots of folk gathered there, all the friends I knew. Nothing’s lost, all’s gain. No more fret nor pain. No more stumbling on the way. No more longing for the day. Going to roam no more. Morning star lights the way, restless dreams all done. Shadows gone, break of day. Real life begun.

        That is a wonderful thought: Real life begins when we get home! + + +