We hastily packed up our lives and boarded a plane bound for the U.S.—leaving behind our ministry to refugees and the country we had come to call home.
Once back in the U.S., we began a difficult period of wondering if we would be able to return, waiting to see if it would ever be possible, and longing to be back where we were seeing God work so powerfully. Then, after 10 long months of intense prayer and uncertainty, our prayers were answered.
We were finally able to return home, but as I stood in our kitchen the first morning back, trying to remember where a certain item could be found, I was struck by a profound and unexpected sense of unsettledness. I couldn’t put my finger on the root of the feeling. Homesickness? No. Jet lag? Not this time. It didn’t make sense. This was the place I had so desperately longed to be for 10 months, and I expected to walk into our apartment and immediately feel at home. But instead, I felt less settled and less at home.
As I thought about it, I realized this feeling wasn’t new. Like many of us, I have spent much of my life looking for a place where I belonged, somewhere with a hole exactly the size and shape of me. I imagined a place where I would feel perfectly at home and at peace, but I have never found it. And now, I realize that is a blessing.
During our time waiting in America and throughout my life, God has shown me that discomfort is a faithful teacher if we are willing students. I now see that the more at home we feel in our current setting, the less likely we are to long for something better. As believers, we know that our real home is waiting for us in heaven, but how often does that intrude on our daily thoughts or capture our hearts?
If I feel even just a little out of place where I am, I am more likely to look ahead with eager anticipation to where I am going — a place that was created just for me where I can spend eternity worshipping and enjoying my Creator.
Not only does such meditation put this fleeting thing we call “life on earth” into perspective, it gives us an unparalleled message of hope to share with the hurting and suffering masses around us. While my family and I long to make this life better for the Syrian refugees we work with, ultimately nothing can compare with the beautiful truth that this world is not our home. We want the world to know what we know: there is something coming that is beyond our wildest imagination, created for us by our Creator, that we can enjoy for all eternity if we will just trust in Him. The more deeply we believe it, the more likely we are to believably share it.
Please don’t misunderstand me. This great epiphany hasn’t inspired us to suddenly get rid of all our stuff so we can live more uncomfortably and long for heaven that much more — we like indoor plumbing, comfortable furniture, and kitchen appliances. But it has inspired us to live in the mindful knowledge that this is not our true home.
While God created this world for us to enjoy, He wants us to enjoy Him infinitely more, and we want our desire for Him to shape our time and our efforts. I pray that it captures our focus and imagination above all else, so when that feeling of unsettledness creeps in, as it always does, I can rest in the knowledge that the perfect home I’ve been longing for does exist — in heaven.