I wiped the tears from my eyes, determined not to blur what could be my last good look at the country I’d called ‘home’ all my life. The plane’s wheels lifted off the tarmac. Cars, trees, houses, rivers and mountains soon looked like a child’s plaything. Would I ever again call this beautiful country ‘home’? Where was home? Already I felt disconnected … alone in the world … homeless.
The clouds obscured the view, and still I rose higher, racing to a new country, a new life. I pulled out my worn Bible, looking for comfort.
“I tell you the truth, …no one who has left home … for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age … and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Matthew 10:29-30 NIV)
I wasn’t sure that I wanted a hundred times more than what I’d just then given up. I was tired and simply wanted to go home. Yet where was home? Was this venture truly of God? Who was God anyhow? Without the anchor of ‘home’, did anything have substance? Who was I? The tears flowed in earnest.
(Two years later)
Living in my second town, having moved five times already, was it any wonder I felt unsettled? Oh, I had friends here. But were they friends? Or were they just being nice to me, showing the courtesy offered to a welcome guest? Day in and day out, I struggled to communicate, hindered by language and culture differences. I had once been intelligent and capable. Freshly graduated from language school, still I felt like a bumbling idiot. Eight-year-olds were more eloquent than this stammering woman with her strange foreign ways.
Surely this was supposed to be ‘home’ by now. It was ‘home’ for the millions around me. I did everything possible to make it feel like home, my anchor in life, the place where I could be myself. Yet my greatest efforts met with frustration and disappointment time after time.
The apartment was decorated in the local style. Still my friends would comment, “Ah, so this is what a foreign home looks like.” I did my best to speak the language, but everyone just wanted to practise English. I tried to cook the local way, but it took too much time. Circumstances demanded that I live alone, unlike any local person. I had an apartment, but not a home.
Finally the truth sunk in. My home was not this country. I was a foreigner. A pasty-white, big-nosed round-eyed outsider.
Where did I belong? Nowhere, I reasoned. Who was I? Nobody, I thought. What value did I have? None whatsoever – of that I was confident.
(10 years later)
Tears pricked my eyes. The plane’s wheels left the tarmac. Cars, trees, houses, rivers and mountains soon looked like a child’s plaything. I was leaving my country of passport yet again, returning to the country whose visa was stamped in that passport. Returning to my apartment, friends, team, community and work. Returning happily. Settled at last.
My home was not the magnificent country which was quickly fading out of sight. My home was not that fascinating land to which I was headed. Yet I was certainly not homeless. No, I belonged, I had an anchor, life had substance, and I even had an inkling of who I was.
Tired, grieving for what I’d left behind again, although also excited about the reunions ahead, I opened my well-worn bilingual Bible, looking for comfort.
“…our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who … will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore … that is how you should stand firm in the Lord…” (Philippians 3:20-4:1 NIV)
The plane sped through the air. With a nod to my neighbour, I snuggled into my seat, feeling quite ‘at home’. Finally I’d learned the secret of being content wherever on this amazing planet I might be.
Home … an anchor … a rock … a place where I can be myself … is only found in God. Simply in grasping this truth, perhaps I have already received the hundred times more than I gave up when I first left my homeland ‘for the gospel’. My life is already rich in many ways. Even richer will be that promised eternal life in the age to come.
Then I will truly be ‘home’!
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