The soft glow of the fire greeted me as I joined my friends along the channel. It was a picturesque evening. The moonlight danced on the water, the wind gently rustled the trees, music and perfect harmony filled the air. I was surrounded by people I dearly loved. I laid back on the bench and stared into the canopy of trees above, listening to someone play guitar and sing.
Jesus, can I have a spot like this someday?
I think He smiled at me in that moment. I can just see Him nodding and, without a word, preparing that very thing for me and anticipating the day I would find myself in it once again. Then suddenly, perfectly, the rain began to fall. I hardly noticed until I heard it on the water a few feet away from us. The trees sheltered us. We were surrounded by the sound of the steady rain, unhindered in our fellowship. I could not have asked for a better ending to my last summer at home.
After dashing through the rain to my car and making a midnight Wal-Mart run with friends, I found myself saying goodbye to some of the best people I know. They told me the rest of my life was about to begin. I was stepping into the real world. They said they were happily staying behind in the blissful, sheltered existence of Christian colleges and staffing the Christian summer camp I’d been part of for five summers. They celebrated what they called “the fake world” while wishing me well in the “real world.” And oddly enough, it made perfect sense. I drove away listening to a mixed CD that reminded me of long lost high school days and ate a little bit of chocolate to soften the blow of leaving.
How many more times will I have to drive away until I’m really home?
Sometimes I don’t even feel at home in my own skin. I get the feeling that I could go a million places at once. I find myself experiencing alternating urges to leave the country and to settle into one place—all in the same breath. I’m both a homebody and a drifter. Steady and restless. Complex and simple. Truly I am my Father’s daughter. And in the midst of this paradoxical existence, I’ve grappled almost constantly with the concept of home.
Sometimes God takes us the long way home. As the old saying goes, Home is where the heart is. I cannot deny that my heart is with Him.
Home. I see it the eyes of the ones I love. Family. Community. Trust. Hope. I feel it in the waves as they crash into shore. Movement. Change. Power. Mystery. I hear it in the laughter of my 2 year-old niece as she runs for no reason at all. Freedom. Joy. Release. Flight.
I know this world is not our home. What I truly long for is something to hold me in one place. God has been trying to tell me all along that it’s Him that walks with me. I must humbly admit that the only thing holding me together are His everlasting arms, be it in the midst of trial or the best of times.
Then I ask myself, if He’s put eternity in our hearts, yet our minds cannot fathom it, how are we to live? Do I stride purposefully toward Him, or aimlessly in a direction of my choice? I struggle to hear Him, yet I cannot deny He is closer than my skin. He is fierce. Gentle. Beyond. Within. And I realize that I am both discontent and at rest.
Somehow He brings perfect moments that close a chapter in my life. He surrounds me with laughter when I most want to cry. Somehow He takes my breath away with His timing and His creation. He soothes me with the sound of rain and music. And in all this I remember—there is grace enough to keep on living.