The last fourteen weeks have been amazing. We have seen faces and places all over the east coast (and a pit stop in OK!), creating memories that we will treasure for a lifetime.
Though I wouldn’t trade this time for anything, I have to admit that I have felt more like a nomad than a permanent resident. Living out of suitcases, staying in other peoples’ homes, never quite knowing where things are located, trying to hold onto some semblance of routine and order. I have cried out to God many times in moments of feeling like a complete wanderer, one who is in-between worlds, not really at home anywhere.
As I have met Him in the Word each day over this matter, I am realizing that this is exactly how I am supposed to feel. The fact that I don’t feel this way more often is just an indicator of the depth of my sinful heart. This world is not my home. I should be uncomfortable here. A huge part of walking by faith in this life is knowing that what my eyes can see is only temporary. I am a fool to store up treasure on earth, which is not my permanent home.
Knowing that our human tendency is to value what we can see over what we cannot, our Lord warns about these very things. We are not to put our hope in earthly treasure, which will ultimately rot and come to nothing. Rather, we are to treasure eternal things, which will last forever (Matthew 6:19-21).
The writer of Hebrews holds up Abraham as a model of this kind of faith. Abraham knew that he was a “stranger and exile on the earth (11:13),” and that the city that he was seeking was one whose “designer and builder is God (11:10). I want to be like Abraham – one who “desires a better country, that is, a heavenly one (11:16).”
If I fully believe these things (and I DO!), then why is this so difficult to live out? It’s not as simple as saying “Eternal things are more important than earthly things; therefore, I should value eternal things.” It’s fairly simple and straightforward to not acquire unnecessary things, and I feel like I am fairly alert toward paying attention to what is a want and a need. But it is also true that there are earthly things that are necessary during my time here on earth – a home, clothing, etc. It’s when I start sorting through the things that would be considered necessary that I run into trouble. Slowly, my claim on these things begins to be strengthened. My grip becomes tighter. My sense of entitlement becomes more pronounced. Before I know it, what was once a gift from His hand becomes something that I own and have a need to control. Oh, how deceptive is this heart of mine!
How do I find the balance? How do I hold loosely to the necessary things of the world? For me, the solution is gratitude. If my view is such that ALL things come from His merciful hand – gifts from the Giver to this one in need – then I won’t dare begin to presume that I am entitled to or in control of what has been freely given to me. I am praying that He will give me grace to hold loosely to what He has given, since it is not ultimately mine in the end. All that I have is His, and in the end, my prize will be HIM!
During our time here in the US, lots of folks have greeted us with a cheerful “Welcome Home!” Within a few seconds, though, they almost always stop and question us about whether we consider the US to be our home. From an earthly perspective, our house is in East Asia. This is the place that is most familiar to us, where my kids have grown up, where we do daily life. I like it there. I miss it when we are on this side of the ocean. Still, my longing for that place is really just a misplaced longing for my true home in heaven. Like the apostle Paul who realized that his citizenship is of heaven, let my longings for an earthly home cause me to be fixed on my heavenly home.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.