“And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home”
Safely to arrive at home”
As I’ve been at this conference this week we’ve started every morning with worship. Which has been wonderful—I’ve been missing corporate worship in my life. The songs have all been good and appropriate as I’m crying out to God about the conflict in South Sudan and the uncertainties, complexities, and anxieties in my life. There have been a few songs with the word “home” in them, and each time I’d sing a line with that in it tears would spring to my eyes.
The girl I’ve been rooming with this week lives and serves in a small village in Uganda. When you get in a place where there are lots of people who can relate to your crazy life, venting tends to happen. One evening we exchanged frustrations: “My neighbors give me no privacy!” “I’m so frustrated with living in shared space!” “I just want my own freaking kitchen!” “I dream about having all my possessions in one place someday!” “Can anything ever be easy?!”
It was cathartic. I think complaining is fine so long as you don’t let yourself dwell there too long. We were venting and laughing and starting talking about how this is the life we chose. There are mega frustrations but we wouldn’t want anything else. But I am a homebody. I desire to settle in. I hate being uprooted. And, so, this whole concept of “home” has been bouncing around in my mind all week.
I’ve called at least three places home in the last year. I have belongings in four countries. (Five if you include the winter coat and accessories I left in the UK). In the last three weeks I have slept in seven different beds. Nine if you include the seat on plane on overnight flights. I really have no idea when I will be settling someplace for more than a few weeks in the foreseeable future.
In John 14 it talks about making our home in Christ. He is our place of rest. Our exhale at the end of the day. Our exhale throughout the day, really. Our home is where we are nourished, where we are settled, and usually where the people we love the most are. It is a place of warmth, comfort, importance. I don’t know where on earth to call my home right now. But if I keep looking up, and keep my perspective on the life hereafter, making my home in Christ can mean something. It’s easier to hold the things of this life more loosely if I think of Christ as my home—my place of belonging and being, than anywhere else on this earth.
I’ve befriended a lady who was working in another area in South Sudan. An area that has been taken by rebels and has been bombed and looted. Colleagues have e-mailed her saying that there are dead bodies just lying in the streets and the stench is overwhelming. Today they sent her pictures of her belongings picked over. Her small home trashed and looted. The locks on her trunks shot off and her medical books strewn about.
I am embarrassed with myself with how concerned I am about the stuff I have in Juba and when/if I’ll be able to get it and if it will still even be there. I escaped the dang conflict! Some people have lost everything including loved ones and lives. I feel ridiculous!
I’ve been thinking about the verse in Matthew 6 that talks about not laying up treasures on earth where thieves, moth, and rust destroy. I have stuff. Lots of stuff. More than enough. And I LIKE my stuff and want to keep it! It’s not much and I already left a bunch of stuff in Ktown when I left last year! I don’t want to do it again! I’m not proud of it, but it’s true that when I’m with my belongings I feel more at rest, more at peace, more at home.
It’s not like he’s not worthy. He is. He is worth every sacrifice and more. And I canNOT live in fear of what the Lord might, seemingly, take from me next. I’ve had too many good-byes, so much moving around, heartache. We all have heartache. And bad things will come. But I can’t live afraid of what I may have to give up next. He is good. But he is more than good. He is a loving father. We are filled to be emptied again. But when we are feeling empty, when the bottom is near, we have to believe that the filling will come.
Is that what making my home in him means? To come back every day, time and again, empty and trusting that I can rest and be filled again? That’s what homes are for, right? So I’m not there yet. I’m still chewing on all of this. And though there are moments of fear, frustration, anger, I find that more and more I’m able to shrug my shoulders with an authentic, though slightly bemused smile, and look up ready to keep moving forward towards whatever lies ahead on the way to my true home.