I’m standing in the heart of the city, trains whirring past. Dogs barking. A hundred languages mingle in the chilled, pre-spring air. I’m in the middle of a vibrant, metropolitan city but my heart is a million miles away. It roams far green fields, sits on rock walls and watches the fog roll in from the ocean. It’s in a pub with lilting music, pungent air and a steaming cup of tea cozied elbow to elbow with friends. I’m standing in Vienna, but my heart longs for Ireland – for home.
I was standing on a hill, wind whipping my hair, sheep bleating in defiance of the rain that incessantly pelted their coats. I was in the middle of one of the most beautiful countries known to man, but my heart was a million miles away. It was lying poolside gazing up at a forever-blue sky, roasting in the summer heat. It was in the desert with cacti stretched tall in the orange-red-violet glow of a Sonoran sunset. It was in the living room with kin, drinking the memories in deep. I was standing on a hill in Ireland, but my heart was longing for Arizona – for home.
I was sitting on a beach, staring at a coast I never dreamed I would see. Incredible food filled my belly, and friends who had gone years unseen sat on either side. I was sitting on the Portuguese coast, but my heart was a million miles away. It was in my top-floor flat overlooking a city that never sleeps. It was wandering the streets filled with Mozart and Beethoven where the Sacher Torte is fresh and the coffee flows. It was in my own bed with the window that looks to the east and wakes up with the sun. I was sitting on a beach in Portugal, but my heart was longing for Vienna – for home.
I’m sitting in a pew, surrounded by people with hands lifted, hearts swollen – perhaps broken – with music swirling and words of praise and honor lifting high. I’m sitting among people I love worshipping the God I love, but my heart is a million miles away. It’s bowed low on golden streets, too awed to lift it’s gaze to His face. It’s strolling, weightless and carefree for the first time, hand in hand with the most beautiful Man it’s ever seen. It’s finally at rest, finally full, perfectly whole without an ounce of doubt or pain, not wondering if it’s good enough. I’m sitting in a sanctuary in a beautiful church, but my heart longs for Heaven – for home.
Do you ever feel homesick? Out of place? Like something just isn’t quite right? The longer I live this nomadic expat life, the more I realize that I truly do not have a home here on this earth. Home is so many different places, with so many different people. And it’s pangs run deep and come with a vengeance at the most unexpected – and often most inopportune – times. And the less at home I feel wherever I am now, the more keenly aware I am that I have a permanent Home ready and waiting for me. And it spurs me on to want more – to not settle for just getting by – on this spinning rock we call The World. It makes me want to love more deeply, laugh more heartily, work more diligently, and care more freely, because in the blink of an eye this home will for me be no more, and I will be finally face to face with the One for whom I loved, laughed, worked and cared. I will finally…be home.
So, when you feel the pangs of sadness, and you feel alone. When home just doesn’t seem to feel like home anymore, when you just can’t seem to find your place here, find your place in Him. He loves without demand, and will provide this forever Home to anyone who asks – anyone who dares to love Him in return. And you know what? It’s amazing how knowing where Home truly is, gives purpose and drive and reason to the season spent in the foreign land.
Our house has several distinctive features. The bright red door contrasted against the white exterior to name one.
The biggest sign you’ve found our house however is this: A giant
rock boulder smack in the middle of our front garden.
There are many things I love about that rock. It provides an easy landmark when giving directions to our house (and in an area where everyone within a half mile radius has the exact same address, a good landmark is no small thing!). It also is really lovely to look at. The colors change in the different seasons, time of day, and types of weather. And it just adds a bit of character, and really fits with the “theme” of our area – rocks, rock walls, and more rocks. :)
As lovely as our boulder is, it does cause of bit of inconvenience. Take mowing the lawn, for example. It’s not easy to maneuver around and get all the surrounding grass cut and looking nice and tidy (or so Hubs tells me, hehe). It also makes it hard to get a good game of tag, soccer, or tball going in the front yard. And, with our back yard made up of…rocks…the front is the preferred area of play. And, imagine the heart attack that ensued the first time I looked out the window just in time to see my 6 year old daughter standing on top of said boulder, and jump off. Yeah.
We’ve been asked many times why we don’t just remove it (or ask our landlords to remove it). We’ve actually talked about that with our landlords and it turns out the rock goes so far underground, and gets even bigger (kinda like an iceberg) under there, that to remove it would actually damage the foundation to our house, and could actually cause the entire thing to collapse.
Needless to say, we all agree the rock should stay put.
One day, however, a comparison struck me like a ton of bricks. I can’t help but think how that huge boulder is a bit like…wait for it…Jesus. Yeah, I said it.
I think we’re all familiar with the idea of Jesus as The Rock, the Cornerstone of our faith, etc.
I love Jesus. He’s the best thing that has ever happened to me – and continues to happen to me daily. He has brought a strength, peace and joy to my life that words often fail to express. He has my back in every situation, and He’s perfectly willing to sit while I wail on about the worries, stresses, and scary things in my life. He also is there and rejoices along with me when I talk with Him about the amazing, wonderful, joy-filled things.
But, just like that ginormous boulder in my yard, sometime Jesus is just a bit…annoying. (Don’t worry, I’ve had this conversation with Him many times. He can take it.) He stands there, right in the center of my life. He wants to be that landmark everyone can point to – a way to identify me. He’s also lovely to look at, and be around. But, like that rock, He sometimes just gets in the way. I’m trying to go along my life the way I have planned in my head when I bump head-first into Him. I try to go around Him, but there He stays.
He also tends to bring an element of danger to my life. Just like my daughter felt drawn to that rock to climb on and subsequently jump off, He often asks me to do things – or say things – that scare the living daylights out of me. Things I would never think to do or say on my own.
I have been asked many times why I don’t just take that Rock out of my life. Wouldn’t things be so much easier, simpler, without all the things He asks of me? Well, yes, it probably would be simpler. But easier? I’m not so sure.
You see, there’s one other similarity between Jesus and that rock in my front garden. There is so much more to Him and His part in my life than what you can see on the surface. To remove Him from my life would shake the core of the foundation of my being – my heart – so much that it would irrevocably damage this “house”. His presence, unseen though it may seem, provides such stability and strength to my very being it cannot be removed without causing this entire structure of my heart to crumble.
There is no doubt in my mind, or any other part of me, that I am so much stronger because of His presence and involvement in my life. Just like I’m not entirely unconvinced that our real house is on a firmer, stronger foundation because of that boulder in the garden. Sometimes the very things that seem to cause the most inconvenience in our life, also cause the greatest, and strongest, growth.
So, do you have a Rock in your garden?