“You don’t know anybody?”
“You really don’t know anyone in the room?”
The youth leader’s eyes open wide as he hastily scans the group of teens chatting in small groups looking for some proof to counter our assertion. He even asks a few as they walk by, “Do you know these kids?”
He fumbles for words as the true meaning of the situation becomes clear. Finally, a grin appears as he shakes his head, still in disbelief, welcomes us to Sunday school, and asks us our names. “Wow, you really don’t know anyone and you’re here anyway.”
My family had returned to Texas after living in Mississippi for several years. My father believed in going to church every Sunday, and not just worship service – Sunday school, too. Maybe other teenagers would have refused to go, or have been embarrassed by the attention, but my younger brother and I took it in stride. We were used to being new faces in a crowd of people with established friend groups. We had learned to smile, adapt, and make new friends. For me, the joy of being back in Texas was worth whatever uncomfortable social situation I could encounter. I’ve never had quite the same open reaction as that, but I have been in the room without knowing anyone too many times to count.
Even though I vowed as a teenager I would never leave Texas again, I met this wonderful man whom I married and who promptly got a job out of state leading to a life of transitions. I didn’t know when or if we would get to live in Texas again, but both our families lived there, and we visited every opportunity we could afford. After 14 years, my husband was able to get a temporary post in Houston. When my husband told me, I cried. It had been so long. I embraced every bit of Texas culture, people, and weather I could. I prayed God would help me when it was time to leave, and the closer that date came, the more I went to God about it.
I prayerfully thanked Him for allowing us to get a few years back in Texas, asked Him if we would get to return again, and how many more moves before we would settle – hoping it would be in Texas. He gave me this answer. “Let Me be your home.”
I found the answer just a little bit frustrating. No answers to my specific questions, no clue as to where I would eventually be, or the duration of enduring new places. Just – “Let Me be your home.” What does that even mean? I struggled with it, and tried to figure out how I was supposed to obey Him.
Sometimes people ask me if moving around so frequently is hard. It is, yes. It’s hard to make close friends in short amounts of time, to leave friends, and to see relationships within communities that have grown over long periods of time when I cannot have that experience. I long for a place to call home, for community, a safe place to stay where you are loved, cared for, and a place of belonging. I know I have a heavenly home for eternity, a REAL place that far exceeds anything I can imagine. That’s great for later, but I also need a place to call home in the Present!
As I spent time studying His word for clues to show me how to do that, I was confronted with the truth that my identity is in Jesus Christ, not in being a Texan. God faithfully revealed to me through the Holy Spirit and His word, promises and instructions showing me what it means to let Him be my home.
He tells me to abide in Him. He says He is my refuge. He reveals to me there is nowhere I can go where He is not there, I am a member of the body of Christ which is bigger than my local church, and I am never alone. Even today, I found yet another verse that encourages me, “I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God.”
For me, I don’t know when or where we will eventually settle. It may not be in Texas, but I trust God to cause me to feel peace and at home wherever it is. Whether you are in a new place this season, your family is far away, or in a place you cannot call home, you can find peace, refuge, joy, and know that you belong when you believe and trust God and Jesus Christ.
May the Peace of God be with you!
Here are the scripture references:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me.
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”