There’s something that happens when you travel extensively. Or at least it’s happened to me. And I’m not talking about being able to sleep in all manner of places and talk to sort of people and navigate multiple airports…although those things are true too. I’m actually talking about knowing where you belong.
Where is home, and what determines that it is YOUR PLACE?
It can be challenging to adjust to each new place, new surroundings, and people. I’ve literally woke up in the middle of the night before and had to lay there for a few minutes to realize where I am. Traveling a lot (even in ministry) can make you a little disoriented at night.
Each trip God teaches me big things…which usually all boil down to trusting Him. Last trip, I learned about blooming wherever I am. Don’t let that statement fool you- I haven’t arrived. I am STILL LEARNING how to bloom wherever I am in the moment. Let me explain my inner challenge to you.
You see, I’m a root digger. I love digging my roots deep into the soil of the place I live. My family has moved a lot in my life, and I’ve learned to settle rather quickly in a new environment. However, we are currently living in a home that we’ve been in for twelve years. Translated: we have never lived anywhere longer. So, the root system I have here is pretty serious business.
Then in September 2017, God sent me on an adventure. I was terrified. I was 28 years old and I had never been away from my family for more than six days. Yep, you heard that right… six days. So, I left on an adventure with a friend for 23 days, a thousand miles away from home. We were going to prison for the first time to minister to women we had never met and half of the people we would be working with I had never seen before. I had never been to Florida, and that’s where I was going. It was an all-around adventure.
It was supposed to be a one-time deal, but something happened when I was there. Something tugged on my heart. I cried buckets standing in front of those precious, incarcerated women. In the most broken time of my life, they let me into their weakest moments and I began to heal. They understood my pain and we connected at heart level. After our second day behind bars, I crawled into bed and whispered to the Lord, “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.” I meant it. Through tears, I could feel Him doing something strange and wonderful inside of me.
Fast forward 19 months and I’m sitting here staring at a calendar for 2019 where I’m gone more nights than I’m home. Prison does weird things to you. Or maybe it’s the Jesus part.
Anyway, I’ve been on this prison adventure with Jesus for a while now and He keeps stretching me and calling me to trust regardless of how I feel. It’s amazing and terrifying in the same time. It’s beautiful and broken. I’ve seen things in myself that make me squirm (I don’t always have the best attitude when I’m under pressure!) and seen Him call out strength in me that I didn’t know I had (I didn’t…it was His and He let me borrow it).
Still, there’s this “bloom where you are” business.
I’d like to think I’m fairly adaptable, but sometimes it seems like a process for me to acclimate to new surroundings. I like routine. I like predictability. But when you’re on the road, there’s very little that’s certain. Like VERY LITTLE.
Last trip was my longest ever: 47 nights away from home. That’s nearly seven weeks on the road. I moved eight times. This is what I mean by unpredictably. Just when you feel comfortable with your surroundings, it is time to move. Let’s be honest…it’s hard to dig down roots when you’re being replanted every few days or weeks.
One day, at the height of my frustration I started praying about my bad attitude and vented some real emotions about where I was standing. I’m grateful God isn’t offended by my honest emotional outbursts. I told Him that it was hard for me to be here, there and everywhere. I told Him I felt like I was failing at living in the moment and living out of a suitcase. I told Him I wanted to do better, but I had no idea how. “Bloom where you are” loomed over my head and I just didn’t know the practical ways to actually LIVE that way.
Then in a moment, I felt His whisper- “I. Am. Your. Home.”
That’s it. He is my home, and He is always with me…therefore wherever I am, it can be home. I know this doesn’t seem like a huge revelation, but to me it felt like a major life shift.
Whenever I’m on a long trip (and my friends can verify this) I have a countdown of how many days until I get back home. I talk about it a lot. For my nieces and nephews, we call it “how many sleeps until Aunt Faith comes home”. They can wrap their mind around that…and I can too! I like my home. I miss my family when I’m away. I feel justified to count down the days until I return to my people and the place where I belong.
This dramatic shift of heart started alerting me to how much I talked about the countdown. How much I made the people I spent time with while I was away (co-workers, friends, neighbors) feel like I didn’t want to be there. Like they were less important because I really wished I was home.
It kinda made me feel I had been missing the boat. I was missing the TODAYS because I was wishing for TOMORROW when I could be home with my family. I’m not minimizing my love for family…I’m grateful for a gravitational pull to home base. But to overlook the people I’m currently with is slighting and perhaps a little rude. They are people too. People who God has called me to love in the moment.
March was the month I memorized Psalm 84:3, “Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself where she places her young—near Your altars, Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.” (HCSB) When I started memorizing this verse, it completely wrecked my view of home.
The swallow FINDS A HOME. What if that means I’m supposed to hold all things lightly? Find the home in every place I stay? Find my family in the faces of the people I’m with right now? Love fully and embrace each season…even if it’s sleeping on fold out beds or floor pallets and traveling thousands of miles to be Jesus to people I’ve never met and may never see again? Maybe this is what it means to be a stranger and pilgrim on earth.
I think of Jeremiah 29:4-7, “This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there, do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on it’s behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper.” (HCSB)
What if this season of flying all over the place and learning to be comfortable in the car and figuring out how to sleep on a couch (and not wake up like you slept on a couch…) what if all of this is pointing to One Who wants all of me? He wants me to find my true home in Him, and only Him. Perhaps all these trivial things are just guideposts pointing to the real place I belong. The authentic Home I’ve been craving.
Jesus is where my home is. Home is where Jesus is.
No matter where I am, I can belong. I can be at home. Fully at rest. I can still miss my family. I can still love being at home. But it doesn’t have to define me as out-of-place when I’m not there. Heaven is my forever Home with Jesus…perhaps finding my belonging in Him now is part of the plan.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a kitchen in Alaska, four thousand miles away from my house. I belong here not because this is the place I’m living permanently but because I take my Home with me. His name is Jesus.
Jesus is My Home.