On feeling at home…. anywhere in the world
On our last morning in Belgrade, as we were stuck in traffic on the bridge over the River Danube, we were chatting about how awesome it was that we are all from different countries, and yet we all know and love the same God. And we were chatting about how cool it was that we could pray anywhere and everywhere – on a bridge over the Danube, or in a plane at 40,000 ft.
This reminded me of these brilliant words from Psalm 139:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-10 NIV)
It has absolutely been my experience that God is with us ‘on the far side of the sea’. There is indeed nowhere where I am away from God, nowhere outside of his presence or away from his spirit. Hanging out with Christian brothers from other nations, in other nations has just reminded me of this again.
And now, I’m back in UK – the first time I have been ‘home’ in four years. And those quotations marks are significant… I was unsure how I would feel flying back in to the UK. Would I be really happy and excited to be back? Would I suddenly realize that I missed the UK and wished we were back here? Would I not feel anything (and if so would this be healthy distance or me being in denial?!)
Well, the answer is none of the above! I have really enjoyed being back in London, catching up with old friends, hearing their stories and introducing my Tassie mate Humphrey to the sights and sounds of the capital (I tried to make him kneel down in front of Buckingham Palace in honour of HRM Lizzie who’s been busy keeping Charles off the throne for 60 years now!). And yet at the same time I have felt more sure than ever that ‘home’ for us now – at the very least for this substantial season of life which we are in now – is indeed on the far side of the sea.
The biggest blessing in all of this, is a strong sense we have of being ‘settled’ on the far side of the sea. Not just surviving, not just existing, not even just living. But being settled. Being back in the UK helps me see again, from a different perspective, that God in his grace is helping us to be ‘settled’ in him, in his will and in his presence – even on the far side of the sea.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7 NIV)