There’s No Place Like Home (Chicago)

2017 RightNow Conference Chicago

Home is where we find safety, welcome, and healing. Christians and non-Christians alike long for a place to call home. But what difference would it make to the world to know that the gospel promises home?  In this 30-minute video from the 2017 RightNow Conference in Chicago, Jen Pollock Michel shares the truth that we have a God who takes care to make a home for us. Jesus Christ is the One who will satisfy all our longings for safety, permanence, and rest.

Jen is a speaker and the author of Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of FaithChristianity Today's 2015 Book of the Year. Jen also writes regularly for Today in the Word, a devotional published by The Moody Bible Institute, and is a regular contributor for Christianity Today's popular Her.meneutics blog. 

Home is engrained deeply within us, because our story starts with home. To be human is to long for home. 

Reflect upon your own memories of home or the place where you feel most at home. What do you feel about that place? What do you feel when you are there? What do you miss about it when you’re away?
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Jen made the comment that the gospel promises home. Does this change your view of the gospel story and the gospel message? How?
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Everybody has the longing for a sense of home. Jen encouraged us to put our ear to our culture’s chest and hear what makes their hearts beat with joy, fear, and expectation. It is in this space that we can begin to point people to the gospel. 

What joys, fears, or expectations do you hear from the people in your life? From your neighbors? In our culture?
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How does the gospel uniquely speak to those specific longings?
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We live in an inhospitable world—Jen compared it to S-Town. Mankind's fall into sin causes us to live in brokenness, and our homesickness for safety, heaven, and God manifests in many ways. Divorce, abuse, loss, crisis, and barrenness are just some examples of suffering in our fallen world. 

In what ways are you experiencing brokenness in an inhospitable world? How are you homesick?
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Often, we try to find our safety and security in the homes we make in this world. We live as though money, middle-class neighborhoods, and good education will keep us safe. But we’re all outside of the garden now. Every home in this world is fragile. There is no sure thing. 

Ruth 1:1-21 (ESV)

Naomi Widowed

1In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.2The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.3But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.4These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years,5and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Ruth’s Loyalty to Naomi

6Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food.7So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.8But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.9The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.10And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”11But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands?12Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons,13would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”14Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”16But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.17Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

Naomi and Ruth Return

19So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?”20She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Naomi experienced the inhospitable nature of our fallen world when her husband and two sons died. In her grief, she urged her daughters-in-law to seek security in new husbands and families. Yet this is not where security was to be found. Ruth chose to seek her refuge and her home in Yahweh, the only true security.  

Where are you finding your security in the world? What things give you the illusion of safety and control?
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Are you offering false hope to others or encouraging others to place their security in a place besides God?
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How might you allow yourself to linger with others in their suffering? How could acknowledging our brokenness and homesickness be a bridge to sharing the gospel?
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Though God gives us good gifts, we must remember to hold them loosely. Only Christ is our permanent gift and most lasting home. 

Ruth 1:22 (ESV)

22So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. Their story moves from famine to feasting, and this is always the trajectory of the gospel story. 

We are to anticipate feast. How might you begin to anticipate the coming feast, even in the midst of sorrow?
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Does dwelling on our final home fill you with hope? How could it empower you to keep moving forward, though we’re not yet home?
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Homecoming is possible for us because Jesus Christ Himself entered exile. Feast is possible, because Jesus took up our famine. This is the gospel. We have a forever home because Jesus has taken our homesickness upon Himself. A day is coming when the inhospitable world will be put to right.  

For more information about the RightNow Conference, or to find out how to attend next year’s event, visit

For more from Jen Pollock Michel, see her series Keeping Place, or visit