Yesterday was a perfect day. It’s seldom I say that about a 24 hour period…but it was. I woke up next to my sweet husband. We both had the day off so we decided to go on an adventure. We jumped in his truck and drove two hours across the United States border to Toronto where we ate a fantastic meal and watched the Blue Jays play. It was a blast to sit with him at a baseball game rather than watch him in the dug-out—and as we crawled into bed late last night we agreed it was a day we’d long remember.
So how is it that twelve hours after a perfect day I feel the weight of restlessness? The gnaw of a relentless pursuit to find purpose, pleasure, acceptance, and a safe place to fit in?
This morning I stumbled across a quote from my favorite author. He said “Does your life make others homesick for God?” What a question…
I’ve dedicated my life to serving others; to teaching truth and loving both the neediest and the wealthiest—but perhaps purpose isn’t found in what we do, it’s found in what we long for. Perhaps restlessness isn’t a sign of discontent, but a sense of feeling homesick for God.
I was five years old the first time I felt homesick. My mom gave birth to my little brother, so my sister and I went to stay at our grandmother’s house in the mountains. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my grandma—it’s just that I wanted to be home with my mommy, daddy and new brother. Since we were staying for several weeks and a new semester of school was starting after Christmas, Grandma thought it best to enroll me in the local Kindergarten. This was pure trauma for me for several reasons. To start with, I was seriously shy and a bit slow. I can say that about myself…I was slow! For some reason letters and numbers just didn’t make sense to me. And to top that off, I had a severe allergy problem that kept my nose a bright shade of green. Each day I bawled my eyes out because I felt strange, out of place, and lonely. The truth is—I wanted to go home but didn’t have the ability or control to get there.
I wonder if in some ways we aren’t all like me in Kindergarten. There’s a battle for our security, self-image, sense of peace. A longing for something different even though we can’t pin point what it is. This has me wondering—what does it feel like to be homesick for God?
- You sense that where you are isn’t really where you want to be. Ironically, we can have everything we’ve ever wanted and still feel homesick. We try to change our circumstances, fix our habits, re-adjust our attitudes. Work harder, pray better, love more…but there’s still an aching inside. That’s because when you’re homesick for God there’s not an easy fix. The ache is actually a type of worship. A worship that calmly understands that getting what we want doesn’t bring peace. It’s a holy reminder that earth is not our home—heaven is. And try as we may (and should) to live big lives here on earth, there will always be an ache to remind us of our true home.
- You sense a longing to make a difference, but get tangled in the how to’s and next steps. Instead of pushing through—you settle into dull, and forget the grand whisper of God. S.Lewis had it right when he created the legendary Chronicles of Narnia. He took ordinary kids living during a war, and showed the striking story of life. It’s a story of power, influence, royalty, adventure, bravery and hope. If asked to describe your life, would you use any of these words to explain it?
I just returned from three weeks in Africa. We run an organization that helps the neediest women and children in an under-served region of Uganda. A year and a half ago, I felt a stirring that we were to do more. I wondered if there was a place big enough to hold a large crowd if we were to host a crusade for the region. My staff drove me to a huge dirt field surrounded by a brick wall. When we got out of the car to pray, our team gasped as they pointed behind my back. A whirlwind funnel had developed from the ground up to the sky and it stayed perfectly in place right behind me. There wasn’t an ounce of wind that day, not even a breeze—but this whirlwind continued to spin behind me. Soon it began to traverse across the land and suddenly disappeared. I knew the whirlwind was God’s whisper to try something great. But just because we hear a grand whisper doesn’t mean the path will be easy. For the next year and a half we planned and prayed. The obstacles were real and terrifying but we didn’t back down. We prepared, we studied, we trained, and we went.
For three nights in July we watched the glory of God touch earth. One thousand souls were saved and over twelve thousand people heard about the love of God. Hundreds were baptized in the Nile River, and our team from the United States was forever changed.
What if our lives are meant to hold a series of grand whispers? A bold love for a spouse, a wise leading of co-workers, a strong parenting of children, a gutsy outreach of faith?
Our homesick ache begs to matter, but if we quench it, we may stop listening to its whisper and settle for dull.
- You seek rest, pleasure and holidays while true peace is right in front of you.
On my office desk I have a beautiful picture of Bobby and I on the beach in Jamaica. Sometimes during my worst times of work or writer’s block, I look at that picture and can smell the ocean and the sand. At first I want to escape there, but then I realize my thinking is wrong. My ache is not to escape, but to experience intimacy with God right where I am…right now. It’s not the next vacation, night out, or beach chair that fills me up, it’s the pleasure of a Father enjoying His child, and a child feeling fully loved and at peace.
At the baseball game last night a dad and his little girl sat right in front of us. She obviously prepared for her night out with daddy as she had a pink ball cap firmly placed around her ponytail and a little pink backpack strapped on her back. After hotdogs, fries, and ice cream, the girl kept asking her father what was next. She climbed up and down on him, in and out of his lap. At one point she even said “Daddy, let’s go home.” But the dad held her close and said “Not yet sweetie, let me hold you a little while longer.” What if in our rush to have fun, relax, or get away; we forget we can’t outrun our greatest need—intimacy with our Father. We plan the perfect trips but yearn for our own beds. Can’t wait for time away but don’t know what to do with ourselves when we finally get it. I’ve noticed Jesus never asked for a vacation or time off, but he did ache for intimacy with His Father. Maybe it was His homesickness leaking through.
A true homesick for God will always point us upward not inward.
I want to be one of those people that leave the smell of Jesus behind. The fragrance of a Savior that fills the empty places of wandering with truth and a smile.
One day we won’t feel restless, anxious or empty. We won’t need vacations, time away, or time off. But until then we’re homesick. A holy ache that worships God.