Posted on July 7, 2013
“Maybe at the heart of all our traveling is the dream of someday, somehow, getting Home.” – Buechner
Next week, my husband Eric and I will close out a long season on staff with a ministry called Cru. When I started serving with them as a single woman right out of college, I had dreams of being a missionary to China. Then I met Eric who had a call from God to go to Central Asia so I quickly and joyfully changed my plans. A year after we married, we had the privilege of moving to that beautifully forgotten part of the world. It is still the place I love most that we’ve ever lived. A few short months after moving there, though, we were left clamoring to find a new home in another country as our visas were unexplainably denied. After seeing a few pictures on the internet of a new city in North Africa, we made the decision to move there with the hope of staying long-term. But just a year after that, we found ourselves on a plane heartbroken over the loss of a dream, wondering what God might have for us back in America.
We’ve been back almost 6 years now in the states and during that time have lived in two different cities. In a few months, we’ll make that three cities as we currently work to raise enough money to live in Los Angeles and continue our work with Latino college students there.
As I look at this whole journey we’ve been on as a married couple, and now as a family, there are some meaningful things I think that God has taught us in our faith story to this point.
One is that I feel like we and our kids have learned how to make “home” the place we set up our four walls. Whenever we travel or move to new places we unpack and settle quickly. Both our girls had passports before their 3rd birthdays and have gone to foreign countries for summers learning to live life with us for short seasons on different cultural soils. We’ve loved the experiences we’ve walked through together, the cross-cultural misses we’ve had, and the face of God we’ve seen in the eyes of believers all over the planet.
But at the same time we’ve also learned that the longing in the four of us for settledness in a place is a clear picture that we have yet to make it to our home in the kingdom to come. I’ve grown weary at times of how often the opportunities we thought were open to us in ministry have shut. Whether through powers outside of our control or clear closing of doors in ministry, we haven’t seemed to be able to plant our feet anywhere for very long. Now each time something has closed, God has persistently blown us new directions through his Spirit. I can look back and absolutely see God’s hand in each circumstance and moment of displacement. But it’s also left us yearning as a family for a place to stay a while. What I see this has done in us is point our eyes upward recognizing that this longing we feel makes visible the seed of eternity God rooted in our hearts from the beginning.
Now, I do think there is something to be said for missionaries that rest in a city for a long time, even a lifetime. There is so much value in that and for the work of the ministry they seek to do. But for those of us that haven’t had that, I do think there is value in what God does in our lives too.
So maybe this is part of the tensions God is calling all of us as believers to live in. That we would learn to be home and long for Home at the same time.
I once heard a pastor say that we are all walking paradoxes: we live in the now and not yet, the present kingdom coming on earth and the one to come in heaven. And we are people that are simultaneously citizens here and strangers here in our earthly countries. So maybe this is part of the tensions God is calling all of us as believers to live in. That we would learn to be home and long for Home at the same time. I pray that would be true of all of us who find our rest in him.
photo courtesy: Dirk Knight