All I need is a place to lay my head—and my old Martin guitar.
I’ve known of folk like him all my life. Granted, not all of them choose the life they live, as he has. The man speaking is dressed in clothes he obviously purchased from the Goodwill store. He probably even slept in them last night—in his car, it would appear.
He has no family to speak of. No children. No wife. There is no one who depends on him—except himself. He doesn’t want it any other way. He is satisfied with the way things are going.
I stood and thought one day recently, as I said goodbye once again to my footloose friend. What would make a man want to live like that?
I still have no answer.
Most of us want nests—homes to which we can retreat—safe places for our children and spouses. We want warmth and comfort, along with protection and safety. In our homes, we feel all these things.
Mothers-to-be—most of them—feel the nesting instinct. They want to clean and paint, and sometimes to add on a nursery. (Just ask any father-to-be.) Our Creator made them so, building the nesting instinct into their psyche.
In nesting, we find our first fulfillment as a parent. There will be many more satisfying moments in the years to come, but before they arrive, we first have the need to ensure our offspring will be safe. We want them to have the best chance to arrive in one piece to the age at which we can push them out—of the nest—to fly on their own. It is what we are made for.
And still, the question nags at me: Why would someone choose to live without a nest—a home?
As I contemplate the question, a scene wavers on the edge of my consciousness. I push it away. It is not what I want to consider.
The scene will not be ignored. Against my better judgment, in my mind’s eye, I let it play out.
A crowd of people is moving through a dry and dusty landscape. There is a lake nearby, and it is clear that many of the men are carrying their belongings, everything they own, on their backs. One of them doesn’t belong in the scene at all.
A well-dressed man—obviously a learned fellow—he is addressing the leader of the group. He makes the claim, with much bravado, but not much conviction, that he will follow the Teacher wherever He goes.
The Teacher replies, telling the religious man that, unlike the foxes (who have dens) and the birds (who have their nests), he had no place even to lay His head. (Matthew 8:18-20)
I don’t know if the man followed Him or not. but I wonder—I can’t help it—I wonder why there is no place for the Teacher to call home.
How did the Baby—whose mother wrapped Him gently and laid Him in a manger, whose earthly father taught him in the arts of carpentry, whose parents were so concerned about Him wandering off into the temple at the age of twelve—how did He turn into a man who had no place to sleep?
How is it that this Son of God is homeless?
The answer hits me like an avalanche and knocks me down, breathless.
He chose this!
Do you suppose He could not have had the finest palace if He had desired it? Do you think a life of ease was beyond His power?
There was nothing—no power on earth—that could have denied Him any comfort He wanted.
And, just as quickly as that, I have my answer. He chose. He chose to leave the comfort of His home and its protection so He could bring mankind to a place of protection and rest!
His invitation to the people of His day was that they come to Him, as chicks run to the mother hen and shelter under her wings, safe in the nest. (Luke 13:34)
They would not. It didn’t stop Him.
Do you see the picture? He left the nest to bring us to the nest!
It was always about gathering us to safety—always that we might be protected.
Even as He died in our place, the assurance was of a nest being prepared. If I go and prepare a place, I will bring you to safety there. (John 14:3)
He wandered, homeless, so we wouldn’t have to.
Why would we make any other choice? Why would we still wander, homeless?
I could use that reassurance today. Maybe you could too.
Time for rest.
Nestle down and abide.
Under His wings.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.
(William Cushing ~American pastor/poet ~ 1823-1902)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.