Advent 2020

Go Home

On September 29, 2009, Country music artist Miranda Lambert released an album named, “Revolution.” The album did extremely well debuting at #8 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart. This wasn’t new for Miranda, her previous two albums also debuted at #1.

There are several great songs on this album, but one that immediately stuck out to me is called, “Heart Like Mine”. The song is sung from the perspective of a young woman who, by the expectations of her family and hometown, has not lived a life to be proud of.

The undercurrent of the song is one of a woman who is in conflict with everything in her life as well as with herself. Read these lyrics from the verses of the song:

I ain’t the kind you take home to mama
I ain’t the kind to wear no ring
Somehow I always get stronger
When I’m on my second drink

Even though I hate to admit it
Sometimes I smoke cigarettes
The Christian folks say I should quit it
And I just smile and say “God Bless”

Daddy cried when he saw my tattoo
But said he loved me anyway
My brother got the brains of the family
So I thought I’d learn to sing

What is fascinating is what happens in the chorus. As soon as I heard this chorus tears sprung to my eyes:

Cause I heard Jesus He drank wine
And I bet we’d get along just fine
He could calm a storm and heal the blind
And I bet He’d understand a heart like mine

We’ve all been there haven’t we? The world is swirling around us and somewhere deep within we just know for a fact that Jesus can calm that storm. There is nothing greater than the thought that Jesus would understand a heart like ours.

Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert, and Travis Howard wrote that song together. They are all phenomenal song writers. They had so many different miracles of Jesus to draw from in this scenario, and they chose the Wedding Feast at Cana, Jesus calming a storm, and Healing a blind man.

It’s the calming of the storm that fascinated me when I heard the song. Wine and Blind rhyme pretty well, but they could have used just about any miracle to fill in the middle, but they chose calming a storm. The subject of this song feels trapped by her home. Everything is in turmoil, whether by her own choices or by the actions of those around her she is not at peace.

But somewhere in the middle of all of that she knows that Jesus could calm the storm and understand her heart.

Read – Ruth 1:15-22

In the time of Ruth, women had to be married. Their very lives depended on marriage. Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, were living in Moab when he died. Naomi was left with two sons. This was good because they could provide for their mother.

Each of the boys married, one to Orpah and one to Ruth. Ten years passed and both of Naomi’s sons died. Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah were alone with no men to provide for their needs. The fear these three women must have felt. What were they going to do?

The world was a much more dangerous place for women who weren’t married back then. There was the very real possibility that they could be raped, sold into sexual bondage, or murdered for the few possessions that may have been left from their husbands.

Naomi instructed her daughters-in-law to return home with these words: “Go, return each of you to your mother’s house…May the Lord grant that you may find a place of rest, each one in the house of her husband.” In that moment Naomi was in a sense saying that God could “calm a storm” for her daughters-in-law.

Naomi was from Judah and began preparations to return there. Orpah and Ruth decided to go with Naomi and journey to Judah with her. Naomi knowing the world in which they lived; reminded them that she could not bear any more sons for them to marry. Naomi was going home and wanted to go alone to spare her daughters-in-law from a life with no promise.

A life where the religious folk of their day would look down their noses and assume that these women must have done something that made God angry and they were being punished by losing their husbands and possessions. Naomi knew, as Miranda Lambert so aptly put it, “The Christian folks” were not going to be kind.

Orpah made the decision to leave, but Ruth stayed saying, “…where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”

The fall of 2009 was one of the hardest and most transformative few months of my life. I found myself unemployed in the depths of the worst recession in over 70 years. I had been married for 4 months and had to tell Courtney that I didn’t have a job anymore.

My world was spinning and there was only one place I wanted to go: Mars Hill. I come from a fairly small city and went to college in Mars Hill, NC. Mars Hill is a bonafide small town where the college of 1,000 students doubled the population from September to May each year.

My dad’s calling as a pastor took us to many wonderful places in my life, but as great as those people and places are, Mars Hill was the place I got to choose. It was the first place that felt like “my home”. I asked Courtney if I could go to Mars Hill for a couple of days and she said yes.

I called a friend whose family owns a remote cabin and he agreed to let me use it free of charge for a few days while I dealt with my professional setback. I loaded up my truck, put this album in and hit random.

“Heart Like Mine” was the 12th song on that album. But the song that started playing on my stereo that day is the 10th song, “House that Built Me”. It’s a song about a grown person who returns to the home she grew up in during a period of self doubt and failure. She asks the current owner if she can come inside to perhaps get herself back on track.

I listened to this song on repeat all four hours of the drive from Atlanta to Mars Hill. Tears streamed down my face as Miranda sang:

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing.
Out here it’s like I’m someone else,
I thought that maybe I could find myself

There was no guarantee that going back to Mars Hill would do anything to heal my wounds, but I knew it was the best shot I had to find myself again. My favorite line in the song goes:

You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can.
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am.

The world was swirling like this for Naomi and Ruth as they journeyed back to Naomi’s homeland. I’m sure they felt lost, broken, and in need of something to fix it. Naomi took the risk that those in her hometown would reject her and she and Ruth would live out their days in abject poverty and fear.

Naomi returned to Judah, but more specifically, Naomi and Ruth made their way back to the city of Bethlehem. Yes, that Bethlehem. Ruth would marry a man named Boaz who provided for her and Naomi. Ruth and Boaz would have a son named Obed who would eventually become the Grandfather of David. The very lineage of Jesus.

The first line of “House that Built Me” are these words: “I know they say you can’t go home again.” But Naomi did go home again. Despite her belief that God had turned against her, Naomi went to the one place she knew that she might have a chance.

I went home to Mars Hill that October, but it wasn’t really Mars Hill that I returned to. I went home again, to the same home that Naomi and Ruth did centuries ago, the same home to which each of us celebrates this season. God has demonstrated this in so many ways through so many people in the Bible and in our own lives.

When you feel like you are all alone, if the whole world is against you, if you think you’ll never find peace: Go Home.

No Comments

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.