Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If You're Looking For A Home


It's the first week of December when I write about the call to Joy in the middle of all the unknowns.  But it's really the title phrase that catches me when I'm finished, reminds me of something I wrote just a few months back.

It was October when I wrote that it was time to let go.

And it's December when I write that it's time to rejoice.

I'm foolish enough to think it's only the titles that echo each other, because sometimes I'm just as blind as ever to the God who's always weaving the days together, telling a story I don't quite understand.

But God, He's not phased by this woman's scaled eyes and He lets the Truth Whisper slip down into the soul, rustle through thoughts until I can't help but recognize what's been there all along.

It was October when I wrote about letting go of what's been lost--the home that once was and will never be again, the life once lived that's fallen clean apart.  And it's December when I write about choosing joy in the "in between"--after it's all been torn down and we're still waiting here in the wreckage for what He's going to build.

And when I write about the "in between," I scratch it down boldly that God is Joy and God is Love--but somehow I stop short of the one thing I'm not yet ready to believe.

But God, He doesn't give up and He takes me to a place that seems unrelated, draws me back to my musings on the Psalms of Ascent.  And I pick up where I left off, read through that third song on this long road:

Psalm 122
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
'Let us go to the house of the LORD.'
Our feet are standing
in your gates, O Jerusalem.


Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
to praise the name of the LORD
according to the statute given to Israel.
There the thrones for judgment stand,
the thrones of the house of David.


Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
'May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.'
For the sake of my brothers and friends,
I will say, 'Peace be within you.'
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your prosperity.

But I don't understand where this road's going.  The one who's been on the journey before, she writes this:  "The first Psalm of Ascent {Ps 120} seemed to position the pilgrim in an alien land.  Psalm 121 {the second Psalm of Ascent} pictured the pilgrim on his journey, gazing at the hills before him, enduring harsh elements, and dreading the dark of night.  In the third psalm {Ps 122} he stands with weary feet and a glad heart on the soil of his destination." {Beth Moore, Stepping Up}

And this is why I can't grab hold of what God's trying to say.  The psalmist has reached his destination.  And me?  I'm still wandering about in the wilderness, unsure if I'm even heading in the right direction.

But I turn to a secondary passage and it's there that I'm undone.

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth...were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ....  Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  {Ephesians 2:11-22}

And finally it's plain as day the one thing I can't--won't?--declare to the world when I write down words about rejoicing in the "in between."  I say that God is Joy and God is Love, but I pull back before I can say this, too:

God is Home.

For two and a half years, I've lived in places I don't call home, and for every last one of those months, there's been an empty aching way down deep.  Because I desperately want a place to belong, a place to root right into, a place to call home.  And all this time, I thought this longing of mine would find rest when the ruins of a life had been healed, built up--when I'd been settled into a home again at long last.

But it's this truth in Ephesians that shakes me out of my assumptions, reaches into the marrow of a life and turns it upside down.  I'm no longer an outsider, a lost pilgrim in a foreign land.  I'm a member of God's household--I *belong* in God's family.  And Christ, He's building me into a House of God.

God is Home.  And in Him, I am always--always--at home.

And this longing that burns and writhes within?  It's for Him.  I'm longing to find my home in Him.

It's been 12 long months since I named this year Faith, and God, He's poured down a fountain of Grace I couldn't contain.  And all that Grace?  It's led me straight to the Love I've been shutting out my whole life.  As these last days of December slip away, I'm hearing His gentle whispers of what the new year might hold.  And maybe I don't yet have a name for the year that's coming, but I know there's at least one thing He's asked--to make myself at home in Him.

Maybe I don't know the how and the what and the when of it all, but I've no doubt that He'll teach and stretch and pull me wide open along the way.  And, oh, what sweet hope there is in knowing that He's Home and I'm already in Him--now I've only to figure out how to really live here.

It might take a whole life to learn this one thing.  But isn't now the best time of all to begin?  It is and I will and, oh, I can hardly wait for the new year to unfold.


8 comments:

  1. Dear Courtney, "God is home!" That's the most awesome thought I've read this morning! I struggle with being a "shut in" with my special needs son and I have to remind myself that this is what God has called me to. Thank you for reminding me that God lives here (in me!).I am never left out of anything! He is here! Blessings, in Jesus, Cynthia

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  2. @CynthiaJSwenson: Yes! God is your Home, wherever you are. Although I don't know what it is like to be a caregiver as you do, my illness has certainly taught me a bit about feeling "shut in" at home and "shut out" of life. But God really is making us into a home and we've no need to feel left out or alone or as if we don't belong. We *do* belong. Here. With Him. May He continue to remind you of His nearness in your everyday life. Grace to you, Friend!

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  3. "God is Home. And in Him, I am always--always--at home." Yes! I appreciate the interaction with Cynthia above, too. Never left out of anything in Him. I needed that today. Thanks and grace to you both.

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  4. hi Courtney,

    i love the way you bring out the richness of the God/Home theme! Because God is Love, He is (now and always) our Home. but also, because God is Love, and the lover wants to be at home in the beloved, as well as being a home for the beloved, He is transforming us into *His* home, so that He is at home in us, and not just the other way around.

    we're already--in some measure--God's home, or at least God's home-under-construction (with the foundations and cornerstone already in place). but in another sense we're not yet God's home--we're being "built together *to become* a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit."
    in the same way, as you bring out, there's a way in which we're already at home in God. and there's also a sense in which we aren't yet, and God invites us to make ourselves at home in Him. in one way we are home, and in another way we're still pilgrims, since we're on a journey toward really and completely living in Him.

    the idea that we are in one way already at home, and in another pilgrims on our way home, made be think of a line from a T. S. Elliot poem ("Little Gidding") that I resonate to:

    We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.

    so glad you're eagerly anticipating the new year, and praying that in it you'll be graced beyond all your anticipations--

    chris

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  5. @tinuviel: Yes, dear friend! Never left out of anything, never out of place. He is in you and you are in Him--as Chris has so eloquently described below--so you are always right in the thick of it :o). May we both learn to really live this in the new year. Sending grace straight back at you!

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  6. @chris: I don't even know how to begin! You've given me so much good stuff here, Chris, and I am still processing some of it.

    I love how you've identified the "richness" I wrote about and yet I'm not even sure I really grasped that part of what I was writing at the time. God is like that with me, letting me write things I'll understand only after I've read them again later.

    And "the lover wants to be at home in the beloved, as well as being a home for the beloved"? Such a beautiful truth, one that I am hoping God will really open up to me in the months to come.

    And I think you've really hit on the struggle of all this...to be at home here and now in Christ and yet still be a pilgrim on the way to the Home of All Homes.

    Well, I could go on, but let me just sum it up by saying thank you for pouring out insight here--I will be processing much of it in the days and weeks to come and writing more as God leads.

    And to be "graced" in the new year? Yes! I pray the same for you, Friend.

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  7. I love your pictures. That one captures Christmas!

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  8. @MamaGriffith,: Thank you, Friend! I snapped this photo at a local nursery over the holidays. All the tiny angles of the ornament reflected the light so perfectly. I don't have a huge stock of photos that say "Christmas!" so I was happy to get this one.

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