In the past year or so, I’ve wandered more than I ever wandered before. I took adventures on planes, buses, trains, etc… and visited places I’d never been to. It came naturally to me, the going off in search of something fun and new, different and intriguing. However, I find it is the plight of people who bounce between houses and never really settle on that one concrete foundation to always seek something other than what they’ve had for so long.
I often joke about how I was raised in the mountains of Tennessee but was cruelly switched at birth with a Northern child. Well, there’s a little truth in every jeer. I have longed to live where the air is clear and the fields are wild and vibrant and full of life, whether it is a field mouse scurrying through the brush, or butterflies fluttering above the grass.
Perhaps, that is why I love Bluegrass. It’s simple and true. You can hear the… gosh… everything in Bill Monroe’s voice when he sings, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’,” or the joy in Flatt and Scruggs’, “So Happy I’ll Be.” In Bluegrass, there’s no better place than home, and if home isn’t really home, then you hop the next train or bus to go make your own way.
So, I did just that. Sort of. Okay, not really. I took a last-minute vacation to visit my friend, who lives in Nowhere, Georgia.
It. Was. Glorious. I felt more “at home” in Nowhere, GA than I’d ever felt in Somewhere, MI. I felt more at peace in the fields than I’d ever experienced on the littered sidewalks of my hometown. It was the escape I needed, the home I’d been looking for.
Now, the beaming florescent bulbs flood artificial light into the cramped office I am in, and the sun scorches the cracked streets outside of my window.
The downside of vacation is that it’s temporary, and at some point you have to go back “home.”
Even if “home” isn’t really home.
Needless to say, I’ve been pretty down since returning from my tranquil backwoods oasis. I’ve had people around me say things like, “Welcome home! We’re so glad you’re home! Be happy that you’re home!” So on and so forth.
I’ve wanted to explain my depression to them, but I fear that I can’t do so without hurting some feelings. Also, because I can’t quite explain it, myself. So, right now I’m going to try.
Home is not home when you haven’t stayed in one place for more than a year at a time. When “I’m going home,” can be replied to with, “Which one?” Home isn’t home.
So, what then, am I to do when my homes are not homes at all, but simply houses built upon shifting sand?
The obvious answer would be to go find or make a structure built on stone and mortar; something sturdy and resilient, something that isn’t going to crumble in the breeze. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done when circumstances have a funny way of rising like a swelling tide and crashing over you, washing away the unstable ground you’re standing on.
And frankly, it’s a lot to do on your own.
In Matthew, Jesus tells us to do something like that, but essentially to build our house of faith upon Him. By not relying on the unstable sands of our faulty, flawed, self-effort, but to live and breathe His words and practices by abiding in Him to live within us- live for us. Because what is God, after all? Sturdy and resilient, unchanging, unfailing. What you’d want to build a home on.
As I set out to find my earthly home, I can sometimes neglect my heavenly home. In my wandering and searching for my land of milk and honey, I ignore the home and shelter found in my in-dwelling, ever-present Savior.
The reality of the world we live in is this: Suffering is inevitable. Pain is inevitable. It’s not brought on by God, but by sin and mere circumstance. Sometimes it is avoidable, sometimes it is completely out of our control. But it happens, none-the-less, and it’s what we allow God to do with it that matters. You can stay in pieces on the floor, or rise up from the ashes of your grief stronger and smarter than you were before.
The sadness and darkness I’ve been feeling at the loss of my earthly serenity is real and okay to feel. I am permitted to experience heartache and mourn, to cry, even. In fact, I’d say it’s good to. It reminds me that sometimes there are things I can’t do anything about.
Getting a taste of your dreams, pleasing as iced sweet tea on hot day, actually does little to satisfy the thirst. Sampling the honeyed nectar of your desires can leave you quite dry, really, and likely wanting more.
What you don’t need on an arid day is a sugary beverage. What you do need is the lasting refreshment and hydration water provides. When the Israelites were walking through the desert, God didn’t rain iced tea on them. He gave them just what they needed; water, food, and Him. And in the mean time, he guided His children to their earthly home.
The lesson that I’ve learned in this experience is that with hard work and prayer, by trusting and abiding in my Lord to lead me, I’ll reach that promised land one day. One day, I’ll find my earthly home – I just have to walk through the desert first. And while I’m in that desert, I have the shade of the Lord in the day and a roaring fire at night to guide me.
When I look around at all that I have, although the scenery is bleak and dreary and the people imperfect and fallible, I can’t say that I don’t have what I need. I have water, food, and an awesome God within me. I’ve found peace in the pain and strength in the suffering. By allowing God to set up shop in my heart, I have a home in Him.
Now, that doesn’t stop me from wanting that country home on a dirt road, but I can rest assured that when I do have that, it’ll be gravy, because when the fields are all grown over and the house porch is falling in – when I’m no longer there – by the Grace of God, I will have reached my eternal home.