(let me begin by apologizing for the length of this post: i’m sorry. there, now we both feel better, right? i know i do. but it might be because of the dr. pepper i just drank. that’s right, i went there.)
I can confidently say that this has been the year of my life most marked by change. From graduating college, moving to Andrews, NC to work at Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters, to moving home for a month before picking up again to move to VA for 3 months of training, to moving back home for 2 weeks before making the biggest move–3 continents & 2 oceans–to finally make it to South Asia (but the moving didn’t stop there). Upon arriving, we moved apartments 3 more times, finally being able to unpack our bags after about a month and a half of living out of them. Now, after we’ve finally gotten to our (permanent) home, we’ve moved yet again for the next 9 weeks as we continue studying the language at an actual school. My life seems to be marked by change and constant transition.
And in this midst of all this change, transition, culture shock, etc, it has become almost comical how easy my thought pattern and source of comfort can become filled with thoughts of the land of free refills, the friendships, family, and (sadly, honestly enough) the material things I’ve left behind. It’s sickeningly easy to become lost in a state of perpetual comparison and ingratitude. So what’s the root of all of these ugly sentiments? This longing for a crazy little thing called “home.” I crave the familiar, ungratefully living with my body in this new home while my heart remains somewhere else. The funny thing is, though, that Christ calls for neither. My “home” remains in none of these feelings, places, or relationships.
Woven into these longings lies the beauty of the Gospel, because as I (shamefully) write these raw, honest confessions, I’m studying the Shekinah Glory of God–that Holy God condescends to us, making these broken, sinful, dirty, dry & dead bones His lively home. Say what?
This notion makes absolutely no sense–why would a holy, perfect, gracious, just, merciful, good God want to have anything to do with a rebellious, stiff-necked, angry, culture shocked and ungrateful Carol?
The answer stays as simple as a memory verse we all know so well (c’mon, say it with me…)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
The Shekinah glory, which literally means “God’s manifested glory,” should never get old us: that He loves us, oh He loves us, and in that love a new covenant echoes and resounds off the walls of the dead hearts of man,
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Revelation 21:3
We first get a glimpse of this glory in the Old Testament as the Shekinah glory of God rested in the tent of meeting where He would regularly meet with Moses, for in Exodus 29:43, 45-46, Yahweh declares,
There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by My glory […] I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
There’s so much I want to say on this beautiful, glorious topic, but I’ll condense it to speak on the current application of this truth in my life. Jesus Christ, my Righteousness, dwells in me. And while I wish I had a magic answer for the culture shock, the transition, the unfamiliar, the lack of feeling “home,” I think I might have a better, sweet, Shekinah answer.
Thoughts of America will never satisfy, missing my family and friends will never fulfill, being able to master a new language, or even some type of ministry success will bring no TRUE joy, peace, hope, or sense of home. In the middle of the change, the exposing of every sin, and amidst the constant state of “newness,” consistency remains to be found in the light of the Glorious One. The One for whom my soul waits, the faithful One, the self-sufficient One, the One in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, my very Righteousness–this One is Jesus Christ that dwells in me, that I would be “sanctified by [His] glory.”
In Him, there is much joy and purpose to be found. In Him alone does my heart finds a home regardless of its physical location or language or cultural understanding. Each morning, that joy and purpose remain beautifully the same in Him, so when I feel that no culture, location, etc., can I call home, let this little heart rejoice and proclaim the goodness of the understanding that I have no home. For our time is but a breath, and our home is not here but in Him.
I hope this sinks in for you, so I’ll say it again: believer, upon this earth you have nothing in which you can truly call home, and the search for such a place is intimately meant to draw you towards something better, for the things we see here are but a “shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17).
So, what do we do when new languages don’t come easy? We rejoice to know that the Spirit alone “searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).
What about when life moves on without us who remain in different countries? We rejoice to know that “we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
But what happens when we leave everything familiar, including our “identity”? We rejoice to know that our life is not our own knowing that, “When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).
The answer to all? Rejoice, little one, rejoice, for we serve the One “who brought again front he dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, [to] equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”