I have this recurring thought that fills me with unease and dread. It’s a picture in my mind of our family in Belgium for our cross-cultural training, and a week or so into it, my son Paul tells me he just wants to go home. At this point in July, our belongings deemed vital enough will have been put on a boat and shipped to El Salvador. We will have sold the only home our boys have ever known. We won’t have secured housing yet in our new country, so when my 4-year-old pleads, “I just want to go home,” it will be a request I cannot satisfy. We won’t have a home.
We won’t have a home.
When I dwell on that thought, images of untethered kites tossed by the wind dance in my mind. I feel a jarring sense of instability. Our anchor of address will have been severed. Part of my identity gone.
A couple days after I had the realization that we would soon be home-less, I picked up my daily devotional and read the passage for that day. The verse was Psalm 90:1, Moses speaking to God:
“Throughout all the generations, you have been our home.”
These inspired words were divinely placed before my eyes in the moment I needed them most. In every season of my life, God has been and will be my home.
I began to ask the Lord, “What are you teaching me about not having a home?” We are giving up our home of 8 years in pursuit of the Lord’s will for our lives. We are saying goodbye to what is familiar, stable, comfortable, safe, and memorable. We are leaving this house God blessed us with for a certainty of uncertainties in our housing situation. We may not find somewhere to live in El Salvador that we necessarily like. We may not be comfortable. It certainly won’t be familiar.
Yet, God has confirmed this call on our lives to serve in El Salvador as long-term missionaries over and over and over again. We are more confident than ever that this is the path He’s asked us to follow. But we don’t follow blindly. I think of two verses that bring peace:
- “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
- “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
So, as I consider what the Lord may be teaching me about the idea of no longer having a place to call home, here are a few thoughts that challenge and encourage me.
God is my refuge.
To me, home has always been synonymous with refuge. A place where I can rest, away from scrutinizing eyes, I can stop striving and simply be. Home for me offers a refuge from the chaos of the world and all the demands that fill my schedule. As I contemplate what our family is leaving when we say goodbye to our house on Underwood Drive, the words rest, comfort, freedom, stability, and security come to mind.
What would it look like if I truly found those things in God?
I could feel rest, comfort, freedom, stability, and security in any space, any location, any address – because God is always with me. The Apostle Paul had learned to put this into practice when he explained in Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Oh to have even an ounce of that contentment!
What I am beginning to see is that I don’t need this physical home to have a refuge from the world. When my faith is in Jesus my Savior, He is my constant refuge in every season of life.
This journey towards long-term missions has been a continual stripping of idols from my grip. (If you’re interested in learning of other idols God has revealed in me, watch my testimony video here.) Please hear me say this – home is a wonderful, good, necessary gift from God. What I have found in this process of choosing to let go of my home is that I hadn’t yet realized and fully given my heart to the truth that God is my ultimate home.
I think a good litmus test for revealing idols is when something is taken away, what is the response of our hearts? Does leaving look like being dragged out kicking and screaming? Does leaving look like quietly holding onto bitterness until I have found a suitable replacement for home? Or will I go joyfully, trusting in the promises I know are mine in Christ. Promises like:
- “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2
- “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
- “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8
- “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27
Lord, allow me to believe that throughout every season of my life, you have been and will be our home.
God fills my spaces with beauty.
When I begin to see God as my home, my definition of beauty changes.
I remember different times in my life where my energy and thoughts were centered around finding a loveseat for our living room. I spent countless hours scrolling through Wayfair for ideas, envisioning a new layout for our furniture, asking for advice from friends. Same with paint colors. Every time we have painted a room, which has been more than I can count on two hands, I have stressed and labored over the decision.
Wanting a beautiful house is not wrong. It’s just temporal. And in those times of my life, I viewed it as crucially important. There was a part of me, if I’m being honest, that believed I would be happier if I had better feng shui in my living room. That I would be satisfied way deep down if the color of my walls exuded sophistication and tranquility.
Wanting a beautiful house is not wrong. It’s just temporal.
Do you see my sin? I had taken a very good thing – a home that sings with beauty – and made it the thing I needed to satisfy my cravings for beauty, comfort, and perception. (I throw that last word in there because it was also about what others thought of my home).
But when God is my home, I become more content with my earthly house.
I am less demanding of my house to make me feel good about myself. When I need to get a new rug because the dog made a mess on the old one, it’s not a life and death decision.
I realized as I was processing saying goodbye to this home, that what I would really miss were the moments shared inside this home with the people I love. Sitting on the floor of our boys’ bedroom watching them build castles out of magnet tiles. Dancing in the dining room to the latest Disney soundtrack they’re obsessed with. Sitting at the desk in my office before anyone else in the house is awake and having those quiet moments with the Lord. Chatting in the kitchen with Clay as we prepare to host a friend for dinner.
Even if I don’t have this home, those moments aren’t going away. God gives us places to live so that we can share them with others.
A beautiful home is much more beautiful when it offers a safe haven of fellowship and rest to people inside and outside the family unit.