It was Christmas, last month, and I thought of home.
The longer I live between Australia and New Zealand, the more differences I see. Most recent example: the US is definitely task-oriented, Australia less so, and New Zealand much less so, probably due to the Polynesian influence on the culture. It would probably be charming, that people are less concerned about time and task than I was taught to be as an American, if I were only here for a short-term trip. Living and serving here long-term makes it a more stressful difference! Still, all things considered, I’ve grown comfortable with being uncomfortable.
When I said “Yes” to God and signed up to be a missionary, I knew I was signing up for an unsettled life. I knew I’d be moving around, and I’d say good-bye to people. I knew I would miss weddings and birthdays and babies entering the world and graduations, and I’d have to do a lot of things I didn’t want to do, and things I didn’t know if I could do. Until you actually experience the long-term culture stress, the inter-personal conflict, the guilty/sad feeling when you once again miss a family member or friend’s milestones, you don’t really know what you signed up for. Still, I was intellectually prepared. I knew about these things. I did not sign up in ignorance, and yet…
Something deep in me sometimes longs for a little bit of ‘settled.’ For a country to call my own and know that there I will stay, for a person or two who I am sure will never move away from me and I’ll never move away from them. Once in a while, I’d like to be somewhere that I can effortlessly fit in, and a space to live where I can ‘nest’ and make it home-like.
If I could go back in time, faced with a choice and a ‘calling’ to missions, I would again say ‘Yes’ to Jesus and going wherever He sends me. It’s just that humanness in me, the part that still loves earth because I can’t comprehend Heaven, that occasionally imagines that any place on earth could be my Home. Even if God did change my direction someday and put me in one place for the rest of my life, this planet would still not be where I belong. Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, America – I don’t belong there. My heart longs for things it can never have completely while I’m separated from my King. His Holy Spirit is with me, but we are not yet face-to-face.
In my times of strength, when I’m thinking clearly, I am grateful for my unsettled life. It is remarkable and utterly good to be dependent on Him, and to know it. I can’t say for sure where I’ll be living in two years, or in a year. I can’t tell you how much money will be in my bank account. I don’t know if I’ll be single or in a relationship. I don’t know what state my health will be in, if any of my student loans will be paid off, if I will be near friends or family. When I signed up to follow Jesus’ calling into missions, I signed up for these things. Now, a few months away from marking my 6th year of ministry, I know this better because of my own experience. I know there are more things I must learn to sacrifice. There are new and wondrous things to learn about my Savior, King, Beloved, my God. I expect to face the unexpected.
I know for certain that in two years, in a year, the Living God will still know me more deeply than I know myself. He will still be with me. It will still be astonishingly good to depend on Him, even through pain, and know it. In two years, in a year, His purposes and plans will remain too great for me to comprehend – and there will still be joy in choosing to obey Him. In two years, in a year, I will have times of struggle. I will doubt; no doubt about that. But in two years, in a year, He will still love me. I’ll still be bound for an eternity with Him.
Home doesn’t get much better than that.