Person or Place?

Our grandchildren often say to their parents, “I want to go to Nana and Pop’s house.”
To Ryan, Bailey, and Peyton, their Nana and Pop’s house is a place where they are loved unconditionally, just as they are at their own homes. Although they sometimes misbehave (and get into trouble!) or break or spill something or throw up or wet the bed, they know Nana and Pop will always love and care for them—no matter what!
Actually, we do more than love them. We delight in them! And the little ones know that. When they are at our house, they are the center of attention, for their Pop and I put aside many chores in order to play with “the grands.”
Nana and Pop’s house is a place where the children are lovingly cared for. If they need comfort, we hold them close. If they want a snack, we serve one. If they need a change of scenery, we go somewhere. 
Nana and Pop’s house is a place where a lot of conversation takes place. As we play or work together, we talk about all sorts of things. Pop and I tell them about our lives and our feelings; the children, in turn, share theirs with us. We reminisce about past good times together. We talk about exciting things that are coming up, like Ryan’s starting first grade and Bailey and Peyton’s attending preschool.
A lot of learning takes place at Nana and Pop’s house, for we let the children participate in our work. For example, after they’ve watched me make biscuits, I give them some leftover dough and let them shape it. (And I don’t fuss about the mess they make!) In addition to biscuit making, the little ones love to wash dishes and to cook. Watering flowers and washing cars rank high on their list of favorite outdoors activities, as does digging in the dirt.
While reflecting on the grandchildren’s saying, “I want to go to Nana and Pop’s house,” I realized they don’t long so much for our house, although it’s a comfortable one, as they long to be with the two people who live in it.
Likewise, we Christians do a lot of talking and singing about our longing to go to Heaven, but what we really mean is that we want to be with the God who dwells there. We yearn to experience the delights of being in His presence, to get to know more and more about Him, and to see Him face to face. Thus, our longing for Heaven is not so much for a place as it is for the Person who lives there. 
 I was reminded of that just recently as I was reading the next to the last chapter in the last book of the Bible. The writer, after having seen a vision of the indescribably wonderful place where believers will spend all eternity, heard a voice saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4, New International Version).
That place will thrill us, no doubt! But the Person who lives there will thrill us far more!
© 2004 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill, author, newspaper columnist, photographer, and poet. Contact information for her is found on her website: .


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