The Word for 2011Since Ann shared her word for 2011 last week, I have been praying, wondering, talking with my husband concerning what is ‘the word’ that is the clearest to write over 2011. At first I thought of words like faith and trust as we will certainly need these to make a HUGE life transition this year. I thought of anticipation and expectation as our faith and trust in Him will stir within us—knowing He who has called is faithful and will provide in every way as we continue to walk ahead in faith.
But, it was another word that I finally came to rest upon—a word that could certainly be termed ironic. The word is home.
Why is this ironic? I have a loving marriage and family and we create our closest human community in our home and Grace and Gospel pour through its every facet. So the irony comes in that although the human persons of that home are healthy, stable, intact and I trust deeply that we will flourish in this year, our location and physical structure of home is anything but stable.
As we begin this new year, we prayerfully anticipate that we will be in another physical home at its end. A far away one with a new time zone, language, people and very possibly a bit smaller than our 1100 sq. ft. current home. And before this can happen, we will travel through numerous other places in various states for at least three months and possibly much more.
And this is why the word for the year is home. In every overwhelming glance that I have taken at what it will be to provide the stability and structure for a three year-old, one year-old, husband and myself, I have felt discouraged that nothing will feel like home. Even the house we live in now, which we all love, seems to hold little comfort as I believe that soon I must begin sorting, packing, ridding our lives and preparing to move from this place.
The weary inner voice of flesh is telling me that even if I succeed in providing stability and home for children and husband, it will utterly elude me. For I accept that it is a God-given carved out road I must walk to cultivate home even while I am physically walking away from all of the comforts that surround me as the rooted and established home that has been the only one we as a family have known. It’s been two and one half years here, which doesn’t seem like long, but it has been the vast majority of my son’s life and my daughter’s entire life...which makes it more like an eternity for their little hearts and mine, as I have loved them in it.
As I watch them open arms wide and rejoice in being home after nearly three weeks away traveling, they are jumping, singing, playing and breathing in deeply of the place that is the most familiar and comforting to them, and the reminder of what is coming stares me in the face.
And how can this year have anything to do with home?…
The answer comes in a way that only He who epitomizes the glorious paradox of our earthly wanderings can provide. I have been loving the series of sermons from Tim Keller, available here on-line, that go with his book ‘the Prodigal God’. There are a couple that I have listened to half a dozen times and am meditating upon the truths expounded.
Each sermon deals with an element of the Story of the Prodigal Son. And as I have been walking in this almost dread of transition and being ‘in between’ and longing to be settled and have a home, Keller’s sermon in this series: ‘We Had to Celebrate’ has cut right into the heart of my struggle. I recommend it to anyone—I have it downloaded onto my mp3 player so as to listen while I am working around the house, packing, etc.
He talks about how a main theme if not the main theme of the Bible is of ‘exile and homecoming’. The introduction lists several sources from Heidegger to C.S. Lewis who bring forth the reality that we are not at rest in this world. We are all lost here and even our greatest moments of joy and belonging are the smallest foreshadowing to the Great Homecoming Feast our ‘True Older Brother’, Christ, is preparing for us.
Also, the memories of the joys of our past that we can often long to return to, even if we could somehow, only ‘cheat us’ because they are ‘memory traces’--for we remember how our humanity began—in that perfect garden of God. (drawing mostly upon Lewis’ sermon ‘the Weight of Glory’.)
And I am realizing as I embrace this reality of an exile life in a world where I don’t belong—it will draw me deeper into the arms of He who is Home. I realize too how my life mirrors this Biblical theme and remember this piece I wrote a long time ago and how all of the ‘homes’ that were really NOT home that I experienced growing up wrote the beginnings of what I now walk. What we ALL walk. What He walked so that there can be a restored home and arms opening wide as we run to them for all Eternity.
And so choosing home for 2011 is also choosing to remember. As I experience a deep longing to be settled and at rest and chafe at the things my flesh does not want to do in the least, I remember that I am an exile. This is not a world where my heart can rest and that is true whether I will reside in the same house the rest of my life or move every year of it. So, in this year, as I surrender my desires, and walk in the joy and privilege of a call, I will be able to experience much more deeply what true home is.